The author. Photo by Max Saltman (C’21).
By Robert Mohr
Every time I tell people that I could graduate from Sewanee next year without taking classes in physics, chemistry, biology, calculus, statistics, psychology, economics, business, or politics, I feel a little guilt, as if I’ve missed out on critical pieces of the American college experience. However, as soon as I sit down in one of my two music classes, which I’m taking with no intention of being a music major or minor, that guilt fades away.
At the beginning of my senior year, I will have all of my general education requirements finished, and will only need to take two more English classes to complete my major. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s six class slots over the next two semesters where I can take whatever interests me, regardless of discipline.
In fact, with the exception of my foreign language requirements, I’ve been free from the shackles of gen ed requirements since the end of my first sophomore semester.
I’ll admit that there is another side to the registration coin; by putting off general education requirements, first year students can take advantage of reserved spots in some truly fascinating classes. For example, this semester I missed out on a modern and post-modern architecture class that had reserved spaces for first year students.
Furthermore, it’s impossible to discount the effect that sticking with my intended major has had on my schedule. I applied to Sewanee intending to major in English, and have arranged my classes since freshman year with that goal in mind. Less decisive students should certainly dabble in whatever fields appeal to them if they’re unsure what their major will be. However, leaving your gen eds until the latter portion of your time at Sewanee can be dangerous.
I know plenty of classmates who stress incessantly over class registration because their graduation depends on them getting into a gen ed class their senior year while also trying to complete their major requirements. Here, I raise an important question: would you rather bore yourself with a lab and a math class your sophomore year or cry in the library your senior year because you couldn’t get into field bio?
My advice to all those first year students, starry eyed at the prospect of only having class two days a week or even just graduating on time, take your labs and your languages now, and enjoy the interesting classes when you have the registration status to take them and the study habits to actually enjoy them.
Please explain how it is possible that one “could graduate from Sewanee next year without taking classes in physics, chemistry, biology, calculus, statistics, psychology, economics, business, or politics”. I have a pretty solid memory of the requirements (as they were 40 years ago). Did that change so dramatically as to make your claim valid? Amazing!
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