ES courses worthwhile

Essential Studies teach more than useless math lessons.


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We’ve all thought about it at some point, but I’m just saying it. Why can’t we just learn exactly what we need to know for our future jobs and have school stop there?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been frustrated while sitting in class or doing homework and thinking, “I’m never going to need to know this in the real world, so why do I have to learn it?”

Even though it would be epic to be able to cut out all the extra filler classes, I have come to realize just how much they can actually offer us.

I can recall several classes I’ve taken over the years in which I dragged my feet because I knew I’d never need to know what it was teaching me. Take calculus for example. I probably won’t need to know parabolas or sine graphs while I’m looking at a slide of blood or doing a urinalysis, which are the kinds of things I’ll be doing for my future employment. But I’ve learned to understand that taking calculus, or any class that doesn’t directly benefit your field of study, can actually benefit you in other aspects of life.

It’s a solid fact that I am dreadful at calculus. But struggling with it helped me gain experience in asking for help, persevering and knowing what it feels like to be defeated and have to work hard. These are all qualities that will greatly benefit me on a personal level, even if I never need the actual math skills in my line of work.

Another example of an indirect benefit is exactly what you’re reading now: The Dakota Student. I’m not an English or any communications major. Writing for the paper won’t give me experience in the medical or health field necessarily, but it has certainly taught me more about myself and how to communicate with others than I could have imagined.

I’ve learned how to be professional, how to meet deadlines, how to take constructive criticism and even how to deal with an array of feedback about what I write. These are things that will definitely come in handy.

Sometimes we get frustrated and think whatever lesson we are learning in class that day is unnecessary, but I’ve learned to view it from a different perspective. The things we learn from experiences or relationships can carry us much farther in life.

Sure, in a perfect world we’d all know exactly what our careers would be, and we would only go to school to learn exactly what to do for that trade. But the world isn’t perfect. That’s why I have come to appreciate all the generals and essential studies classes we are required to take to graduate.

So now is the time where I give you one of those cheesy challenges.

The next time you are sitting in class and thinking it’s pointless to be there, ask yourself what you can learn from it. Will it be to have more patience or understanding for other cultures or classes? How about learning how to take good notes, study tips or how to work cohesively with your peers? Can you learn how to listen and take direction even if you don’t fancy the assignment? Or is it possible you may learn how to handle conflicts and resolve them in a respectful and professional manner?

These lessons aren’t limited to academic situations, and that’s exactly why they’re valuable.

I’ve learned to tolerate and even enjoy my essential studies classes. Some of the best life lessons I have learned have come from my interpersonal communications class, and it has nothing to do with my medical laboratory science major.

Schools that require general courses are more beneficial than we may realize. Instead of whining and complaining about them, it would be better to view them as some type of life lesson rather than as an academic waste of time.

Mary Ochs is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at

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