Defending the Fluff: The Value of Non-Major Classes

Bunnies-bunny-rabbits-16437969-1280-800In college life, there’s a lot of emphasis on choosing “the right major” and taking “the right classes” in order to prepare for your future career. And for the most part, we’re down with that. But anyone who’s ever been to college can tell you: It can’t be all hard work all the time.

Particularly in liberal arts curriculum, there’s plenty of room—and arguably a need—to take classes outside your major. Non-major electives give students a broader worldview by allowing them to meet new people while exploring new subjects. That’s our story, anyway—and it turns out we’re not alone. We posed the question recently on CollegeConfidential, and users came out of the woodwork to argue that, in addition to having proven academic merit, so-called fluff courses make college life fun!

User teriwtt admits that a History of Rock and Roll elective served simply “to fulfill a social science requirement,” while user JEM‘s Music 101 course took things to a whole new level. “[There were] no papers that I recall, but … I always say that that course affected my life more than any other that I took in college. I became introduced to opera through that class, I ended up studying Italian so that I could follow the librettos of Italian operas in the original. IMO that class proved the value of a liberal arts education and distribution requirements. It truly enriched my life.”

Nrdsb4 thoroughly enjoyed a Comedy in Film class that called for watching classic movies like Bringing Up Baby, Some Like It Hot, and old Charlie Chaplin films, recalling, “It wasn’t necessarily a total blow off as we had to write several papers, but it was very fun—the films were all showing at the Student Union theater and we’d often hang around afterwards socializing and eating pizza or burgers.”

Missed callings were the theme for thumper1, who recalls of a college-level Badminton course, “I have absolutely no athletic skill. When the teacher told me I had potential to compete, I dropped the course. Then I took bowling.”

Elsewhere on CC, a Dartmouth hopeful polls current students and gets advice from users like meowmix0669, who admits to taking Symphonic Choir as a high school sophomore, but helpfully points out, “I also took 14 APs, so… (selfcall).”

Over on a related Berkeley thread, MarieAntoinette takes offense to the “fluff” label. “I don’t care what you major in, it will be easy for some people and hard for others. Can you see Paris Hilton graduating with honors with a Janitorial Engineering degree? And you can call it fluffy, but how good are you at clinical psychology? We can’t all be HAAS and EECS students … and I bet the HAAS and EECS majors don’t have the foreign language skills that a linguistics major has. NO ONE is good at everything.”

Parents of potential marketing majors like mamaroneck worry that the field is seen as fluffy, but user openedskittles reassures, “You’re thinking of advertising, and that degree is usually given through a university’s communications school. Marketing does have a good dose of statistics and analytical projects. The top programs for marketing are actually pretty quant-heavy.”

The bottom line: Hard work is not the only component of a successful college experience. It’s also about the … experience. Be sure to factor in plenty of fun and exploration—it’s those moments that you’ll cherish long after graduation!


This article was written by Hannah Purnell

Hannah Purnell is a staff writer for Hannah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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