Sunday, November 4, 2012

Broadening Perspectives at Drake

    One of the things I was least looking forward to when I came to Drake was having to take areas of inquiry (AOI), or more commonly known as generals. At other schools, I could graduate with degrees in chemistry and math with only having to take science and math. At first I viewed these “extra” courses as unnecessary and a waste of my time. I thought I would benefit more from taking more classes that would be directly relevant and applicable to my career. It turns out that AOIs have been some of the best classes I’ve taken at Drake. They’ve helped expand my horizons and have forced me to adapt new viewpoints and challenge my thinking. Post graduation, I’ll probably look back on these classes that I actually learned and took away more from my AOIs than I did in some of my chemistry and math classes. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever have the bug to think about solving a differential equation by using a Fourier Series transformation. But concepts I’ve learned in philosophy, psychology, and politics classes will continue to remain relevant in my life.
    A lot of these “extra classes” have also reinforced and expanded material I’ve learned in chemistry and math. For my math major, I took a game theory class last spring, and we studied a classic example, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, extensively in many different formats. I also learned about this dilemma in a world politics class, and just recently again in my psychology class. I feel have a broader perspective on the importance and relevance of this classic situation, thanks to exposure in multiple classes from multiple viewpoints.
    What class has been the most rewarding class from my Drake experience so far? Sophomore year I took China and the World, a class that satisfied my ‘Engaged Citizen’ AOI. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t wise that I decided to take an upper-level politics course, but it genuinely interested me. Every other student in the class was a politics major, so I had to work really hard and get caught up on things that they already understood well. The class culminated in a final paper that forced me to analyze whether or not, and in what way, is China a threat to the U.S. That’s something that I’ve never had to do in chemistry nor math classes, and it challenged me and forced me to grow in so many ways. My writing improved drastically in that course, as well as my critical thinking and analysis skills, which in turn aids me in classes in my majors. Moreover, a lot of these classes have sparked interests in me that I didn’t even know I had. To fulfill my artistic AOI, I even studied art in Madrid for a summer. I’m so glad that the Drake curriculum makes students take AOIs.

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