Branching Out into Non-Majors

By Samantha Allan

The rush to graduate is a frequent part of the college experience. How many classes do I need? How long will it take to be considered upper division? When will I graduate? If these questions have popped up in your head on a number of occasions, you are definitely not alone.

Throughout my years as a Youngstown State University student, I was frequently worried about how many class hours I would need to graduate as soon as possible. I followed the strict expectations down to the wire and never even looked outside of the yellow sheet of requirements.

In the last year, this attitude has changed in the best possible way. A couple semesters ago, I found myself one hour under the classification of full-time student. Desperate to meet the requirements on time, I glanced through the list of non-major classes and looked for any openings.

Not wanting to lose my financial aid, I signed up for a random exercise class that looked interesting. Enrolling in Boxing 1 was the best decision I could have made for myself. The class opened up the doors to meet people of many different majors, relieve some stress from a busy week and also get a great workout in the process.

Many different types of YSU classes are available to learn a new skill or relieve the stress of a hectic life. Art, writing, exercise and many other classes are a great outlet and provide some surprising benefits. Stanford University explains that “… more than anything else these choices – how you acquire disciplinary breadth, how you decide to challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone, which independent avenues of inquiry you choose to pursue – make your academic career uniquely yours” (“Why Should I Take Classes Outside of My Expected Major”).

The message here is pretty clear. Choosing to take outside classes can provide some new perspective and a sense of control over the looming class list that lies in front of you. Since that exercise class, I have tried a non-major art class and yoga. Each of these classes allowed me to meet some great students and professors I would not have met otherwise.

An extra couple hours per week can open up the opportunity to learn a new skill and find a hobby that may never have been available before. At the conclusion of each of these classes, I felt happy to have time each week without the imminent threat of tests and essays. The learning was still present, but it was a different type of education.

Graduating on time is important, and the learning process is the most important part of obtaining a degree. However, I fully support the idea of briefly stepping out of your comfort zone. One extra credit hour will not be a critical hit to your schedule and will offer up the promise of new experience.

So many clubs and classes are available to teach something you may not have even considered. Why not step off the list, just a bit, and take that class you have always wondered about? I guarantee some great memories are waiting within it.