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Elective college courses can broaden horizons

I never really liked writing. Sitting down at a computer for long periods of time and trying to figure out what words go where never really interested me.
Until last year.

Last spring, I took COM 215, a basic reporting class taught by Terry Knight.

Almost immediately, I regretted taking the class. It wasn’t a major or department requirement; I took it because I wanted to. And I still felt like I wanted to, right up until I was handed the syllabus.

Then that feeling disappeared.

I spent hours staring at the assignments I was trying to finish, making little corrections here and there.  I’d turn them in, not expecting anything good to come out of them, but when I got them back, they weren’t nearly as bad as I thought they would be.

Eventually, the class and writing itself began to grow on me.  I found that it got easier and easier as the semester went on, and I realized that it could actually be pretty fun.

All of the credit for that goes to Terry Knight.  The structure of the class ended up helping me learn more than I thought I would when I started the semester.

The same thing can be said about professors in general.  When they’re good, they make you want to learn more about the subject. They help you become better as a person and as a professional.  And, as you go through your college career, is there really anything else you could ask for?

Of course, it helps if you actually like the subject or some prior experience with it. But that’s not necessarily true in every case.

Scheduling information has been posted online for the fall 2014 semester. It’s my third-to-last semester here. And while the temptation is there to find a few blow-off classes and make the semester easy, I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’m going to get out of my comfort zone a bit.  I can’t draw, but I may take an art class.  I’m barely able to speak English on a good day, but maybe I’ll learn a new language like German or Chinese.

If you’ve wondered how the United States government is supposed to work, maybe a political science class is for you.  Or, if that’s not your thing, try a history class.  Or philosophy.

This is college. It’s probably the last time we’ll have in our life to try something new, so why not take a chance? Worst case scenario, you’ll have to suffer through a class you regret. And that’s a valid thing to be worried about.

But the best-case scenario is that you discover a passion or talent you didn’t know you had.  And I think that alone is worth the risk.

Life is full of risks, some scarier than others.  But you never know unless you try.  If it weren’t for Terry Knight and that COM 215 class, there’s no way I’d be writing this column right now.
I took a chance, and it paid off. I can’t guarantee it’ll pay off for everyone.  But the potential rewards outweigh the risks.

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