Virginia Tech isn’t a liberal arts college. But even Tech has general education requirements, or CLEs (Curriculum for a Liberal Education). Many students may think taking these courses is pointless because they don’t directly correlate to their programs of study or future careers. Others may know they’re important, but take them begrudgingly, cursing Tech for making them waste valuable space in their course schedule on math or art history that they’ll never use in their careers.
However, it is important for students to have a well-rounded education and to be exposed to different ways of thinking and looking at the world. Sure, college for most is about getting a degree to get a job to make money, but it is also about learning and opening your mind to possibilities you never even knew existed before. For instance, as a professional and technical writing major, I honestly didn’t know anything about technical writing before coming to Tech, and now I can’t think of a better major for me.
Requiring CLEs can also help students who are unsure of a major explore their options and still be able to graduate on time. I came to Tech as a university studies student and took mostly CLEs my first year. Taking classes like U.S. government and environmental law helped me decide what majors I didn’t want in pursuit of the major I did want.
For students whose majors are focused on science or engineering, which typically require the rational, logical part of the brain, CLEs like Area 2: Ideas, Cultural Traditions, and Values, Area 3: Society and Human Behavior, and Area 6: Creativity and Aesthetic Experience will help them unlock their creative sides and teach them how to read and write closely and critically. For those with majors such as English or political science, Area 5, which requires math, philosophy, or computer science credits, and Area 4, which requires science credits, will teach them how to think logically and problem-solve.
There are so many choices of courses you can take to fulfill CLE credits, or for free electives, that you’re sure to find something you’re interested in. Or you can take a risk and explore something unexpected. Even if you hate it, you’ll learn something new either about yourself, about other people, or just about the way the world works in general. No matter what career you have after college, having a broad view of the world will help you solve problems from all angles.