Ryan Carey-Mahoney: Seeing learning for the sake of learning

Set fire to your strict plan and watch it burn.

Of course, I am talking about sending the course catalogue of your overly-planned college career up in flames.

With the need to accommodate required classes, it is easy for students to lose track of the true purpose of college. We are not here only to take the courses required for our majors and move on in pursuit of a career. We’re also here to experience the world and the diverse perspectives of the people around us.

College is about learning for the sake of learning.

It should be our prerogative to take classes that go beyond our major requirements.

By implementing the University’s general education curriculum, GPAC, which decreases the number of required classes for students in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the University is certainly lightening the course load for CCAS students trying to relieve some course pressure and achieve more freedom when selecting classes.

It’s worthwhile to take advantage of this lightened required course load and sign up for some classes that pique your interests – even if they don’t count toward your major GPA.

Screenwriting, Japanese swordsmanship, musical cultures of black Americans and military geography are just some of the courses we might dismiss because they don’t directly count toward anything but graduation credits. But whimsy will not destroy your four-year plan, and, for what it’s worth, they do count toward something – your personal enlightenment.

And even schools without GPAC aren’t so mired by requirements to the extent that students can’t take a few courses that take them off the beaten path.

This is the one of only times in our lives devoted to learning every bit of information we can. Why waste time ignoring the things that interest us?

When the true meaning of college is forgotten, all that is left is a factory under the guise of a higher learning institution that does little more than manufacture students as subject-specific drones.

My goal, from the beginning of my freshman year, has been to dedicate at least one class a semester to personal growth outside of my academic curriculum. Sometimes this fits into my major, other times it doesn’t, but each semester I’ve felt more accomplished and more informed about a field I would otherwise have had little to no knowledge about.

I learned for the sake of learning.

And to be quite honest, I needed to do it. I did not come to college to be trained or to be molded into an automaton. Hopefully, neither did you. Take advantage of those classes that make GW – and college itself – unique, so you retain the ferocity for knowledge you had at the start of college.

So, as the season of class registration begins, remember to be smart about your choices, and pick a class just because you know nothing about it.

Because otherwise, before you know it, your college career, and your chance to learn just for the sake of it, will go up in smoke.

Ryan Carey-Mahoney, a sophomore majoring in journalism, is a Hatchet columnist.

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