The Benefits of Making Learning Open and Accessible

As a sophomore here at Colgate, I am currently in my final semester of taking classes that fit into the core requirements. After having met these requirements over the past four semesters, I am able to reflect on the positive experiences that this curriculum has provided. 

To start, as the Core Curriculum only consists of four classes, the requirements are far from demanding. Yet, it has laid a strong foundation for the rest of my college career. With these courses, students at Colgate gain a new world view as we are encouraged to explore topics in history, different cultures, and science no matter what our major is. This ability to stray from the focused mindset that a major can create is what makes going to a liberal arts school so beneficial. 

Coming into college, the odds that you truly know your major are less likely than some may believe. I have changed my prospective major a number of times, and ultimately made the complete switch from chemistry to history thanks to a class that I took through the Core Curriculum. 

The Core biology class I took when I was still gearing my attention towards science was interesting, even to someone who was familiar with the course material.The only difference was that the professor taught the class in an inclusive fashion so other students who had not taken biology before could also find it interesting. Originally a science-focused person, I learned a lot about how the world works, but I realized I did not know much about what is going on in the world outside of my community. This is a danger that the Core Curriculum helped prevent by challenging me to broaden my perspective. 

Legacies and Challenges, specifically, are classes where we get to explore texts and ideas that broaden our understanding and ways of thinking about cultures and histories. These classes are also taught in ways that are accessible to students no matter their focus which is a rare privilege that we have here at Colgate. The courses are geared properly to acknowledge that students in the classes may be new to the topic of history, making it appealing to research these questions without having to completely dive into an unfamiliar subject. 

I can see how it may be frustrating to take classes that do not apply to your concentration. But in the end, the skills gained from taking college courses outside of your major truly prepare students better for graduation. The requirement of only four Core classes is reasonable, because they can be completed quickly and leave plenty of time for us to then focus on our primary interests. I find that many of my peers were drawn to Colgate because of the liberal arts education. The goals of liberal arts education have been achieved through this curriculum, so ultimately the curriculum should continue. 

This does not mean that improvements should not continue to be made. For example, after talking to some of my fellow students, one complaint was that sometimes you take a course based on the professor rather than the topic. This issue can be addressed and improved to encourage students to take anything that sparks their interests. The classes should also stay relevant because one of the main features of this curriculum is that it explores older ideas, texts, and communities in “new contexts.” Achieving this balance requires ongoing innovation. These improvements would make an already productive Core Curriculum even better, but in the end, there is no question in my mind that the Core Curriculum should stay