In his College’s Priceless Value article, Frank Bruni debates the importance and the benefits of going to college and which degrees yield the greatest benefits. One of the comments that that struck a chord with me was when Bruni was reflecting on his Shakespearean class he took during college, sighting that although it was a great experience, it did not help him in the career he chose to pursue. Seeing as Interpretation of Literature, and Rhetoric are general education credits at the University of Iowa I myself pondered the importance of taking such classes and how it would benefit me in the long term. I came to the conclusion, that although I admittedly viewed taking these classes as a hassle at first, I recognized that they would make me a well-rounded student. No graduate school or work force wants a student that is one-dimensional. Furthermore, I felt I could gain a different perspective by being in a class that includes students from all different majors. Bringing minds that think differently together makes class discussions more interesting and vibrant. I felt I would be able to develop the important skill of thinking creatively.
The skills I learned when I read King Lear during this semester in class is an example as to how I have benefited from taking these classes. Never had I encountered such a different kind of language as I had encountered in King Lear. Although it was hard for me to interpret and understand the story at first, after I was able to overcome this hurdle, I found King Lear to be a very interesting and a poignant story. Touching on the themes of power and love and understanding, gender dynamics, societal values, etc broadened my thought process. Class discussions further opened my mind to other people’s views and perspectives on a specific point in the story. Although I would sometimes disagree with a point someone would say, I would stretch myself to think from a place they were coming from. This is a crucial skill to have, being able to understand people and accept them for their beliefs and views. Furthermore I learn skills that will help me be a well-educated citizen. Having the ability to question someone in power is an important life skill, and it was practiced in class when analyzing the theme of power in King Lear.
I agree with Bruni on his comments that we should not “forget that in a democracy, college isn’t just about making better engineers but about making better citizens, ones whose eyes have been opened to the sweep of history and the spectrum of civilizations.” It has become increasingly harder to pick a job solely on the interest for the subject rather than for job outlook or how much the salary is, especially in the economy we live in today. With, degrees in the liberal arts and the English Language and Literature being in the top ten worst degrees (according to Forbes) and degrees like Engineering and Computer science in the top employment degrees (according to Forbes), it is not a surprise that students may shy a way from fields of study related to Literature and Liberal Arts. We should always remember, however, that it is important to direct students to a degree they are passionate about rather than completing a degree solely based on its face value.
I feel that this article does a great job detailing why general education requirements are important and why we should take them: http://www.ccis.edu/nationwide/newsletters/MoberlyNews-2012-03.pdf