Don’t underestimate the importance of common core classes

By Emma Weidmann | Staff Writer

College is a time to explore your career goals and experience lots of personal, spiritual and emotional growth. General education courses may seem like useless wastes of time, but they serve to aid in the learning experience that is higher education.

In the College of Arts and Sciences here at Baylor University, the core curriculum consists of 15 hours of common course requirements. That requirement is made up of American Literary Cultures (3 hours), Contemporary Social Issues (3 hours), the United States in Global Perspective (3 hours), U.S. Constitution (3 hours), Christian Scriptures (3 hours) and Christian Heritage (3 hours), as well as Chapel and Creative Arts Experiences, neither of which count for credit hours.

In addition to all of this, the university requires 34 hours of distribution list courses, similar to electives.

You might find the idea of taking 49 hours of courses that may or may not be within your major a little ridiculous, but the way I see it is that you have everything to gain from branching out from your specific academic interests. First of all, part of Baylor’s mission statement is to “educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service,” which can hardly be attained by taking just science or just literature courses.

I can imagine several ways in which literature, communications or sociology courses would be helpful for someone on the pre-med track. The role of a doctor isn’t just to heal patients physically but to be able to give someone a tough diagnosis or bad news with empathy and tact, while also interacting sensitively with people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Sociology courses will help aspiring doctors understand the circumstances that affect their patients, especially if they practice in a community that is at a socioeconomic disadvantage or outside of the ethnic or racial group they belong to. Secondly, literature helps us to understand the world around us and better put ourselves into other people’s shoes.

Liberal arts majors can even stand to gain from taking science courses. You never know when a piece of creative writing may require a certain amount of scientific knowledge. Writing a murder mystery with no knowledge of forensic science would be a tall task, and Google searches may be harder to understand without having more context and definitions for the jargon that you’d inevitably run into.

On a more general note, it’s good to have a working knowledge of several different subjects or a base skill set, even if the topics don’t interest you much. Being able to write and speak effectively are incredibly important life skills that nobody could gain from their biology lecture.

So, when you’re registering for your fall classes and see dozens of hours go on your core curriculum, remember that you’re not in college to be shot directly into the workforce, but to become a well-rounded student and human being.