(Jose Herrera | The Poly Post)

GEs: The friend you probably never wanted, but should appreciate anyway

At the beginning of your academic career at Cal Poly Pomona, you will find yourself selecting courses that have absolutely nothing to do with your major to complete the general education requirements. We can be quick to dismiss these classes as courses we simply need to get out the way — when in reality these courses can prove to be more meaningful than you imagine.   

When it comes to these classes, they are more than checking a box in your degree progress report. These classes serve as a way to develop our character and can assist us in our future careers prospects.   

(Jose Herrera | The Poly Post)

During my time at Citrus College and my first year at CPP, I had to take anthropology courses to fulfill the GE requirement. When I was taking the anthropology classes I clearly remember asking myself, “Why am I here? Why was I being forced to take courses that have nothing to do with my major?  

This wasn’t the first time I had taken a GE course unrelated to my major, but this is the furthest I ever steered away from journalism.  

I was fed up with requirements to meet deadlines, buy books and read endless pages of a topic that I didn’t believe would benefit me. I felt like I was wasting my time but simply accepted it due to the box that needed to be checked off on my degree progress report.  

Reminiscing on my experience, these courses taught me more than I could ever imagine about my journalism career. With the knowledge I began to gain, I began to feel more comfortable speaking to people in person with different cultural backgrounds. The course taught me lessons that went beyond the textbooks and allowed my confidence to thrive regardless of who I was speaking to.  

In my short career as a journalist, I now speak comfortably when conducting interviews, making phone calls to sources and simply writing about topics that are outside of my comfort zone. I never would have thought that these skills would have been a result of anthropology courses.  

The key is to relate these GEs back to your major or back to your personal life. For example, how is this class going to make me a well-rounded individual for my future job? Will it teach me how to communicate better as a co-worker in the future? Will it help me become more organized? These are the questions to ask when taking on a GE course, before dismissing it as pointless. 

Many times, GEs can serve as a balance. For example, I had a running class a couple of years ago that was in my schedule along with the rest of my heavy-writing classes. This running class served as a break from hitting the books and contributed to a balance I never knew I needed.  

When we are so heavily involved in our major, we forget that we move with the same group of people. When you take a GE that may be outside of your comfort zone, you are meshing with a new crowd that can broaden your perspectives and your social life. These connections can lead to paths you’d never uncover in your department’s building.  

The things you will learn during these courses can be beneficial in your future career. In my experience, some GE courses taught me new things about myself and they also provided a healthy academic balance. These courses do serve a purpose. They serve the purpose of helping us grow as individuals, and perhaps improving our social life along the way by meeting some new people. 

Everyone’s academic career is unique and GE courses help us create that academic journey we can call our own.  

The experiences that some GEs bring cannot be created with major or upper division courses. For this reason, despite what major you are, don’t hesitate to dive into that GE course requirement you’ve been putting off for so long. Instead, make the most of it. 

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