When I came to Yale I had my four years of classes planned on a color-coordinated excel sheet. In my fantasy world, I only had one opportunity to take a class outside of my major and the other requirements issued by Yale. I was so sure of my life path that when I didn’t immediately get into a biology class my first year, I thought my Yale career was ruined. Looking back on my first-year self I can freely admit that I was wrong. My path has deviated from my four-year plan, but I truly believe it’s for the best.
This is that color coordinated spreadsheet that I never stuck to.
Yale breaks down your 36 required classes in a way that ensures that every student gets to explore a wide variety of subjects. Your first (approximately) 12 classes are allocated for your major requirements. The next 12 are spread out across distributional requirements, which means students will take two classes in multiple fields, including but not limited to, quantitative reasoning, social science, and writing. That leaves twelve classes to explore and have fun while on the Yale campus, something which I’m so glad I’ve gotten to take advantage of as a Yale student.
Many of my favorite moments have come from classes that I never expected to take. Last year, I took a class called “Life Worth Living” which was coordinated by professors in the Divinity school. This class filled none of my requirements, but I personally credit it with changing my entire life. The premise of the class was the “revive critical discussion in universities and the broader culture about the most important question of our lives: What is a life worth living?” This class met three times each week, once to listen to a guest lecturer, and twice in smaller groups to discuss the readings and our own personal philosophies. We also went on a one day retreat where I learned so much about my peers and about myself. This class still occasionally gets together, and we have a pretty active group chat, which includes our amazing professor.
My first time at Shabbat dinner with my Life Worth Living class!
This semester I’ve decided to take more classes outside of just my political science major, and have enrolled in both a basic drawing class and a class on documentary filmmaking. While my parents continue to joke about my newfound love for art, I’ve made many important discoveries through these classes.
I have learned that I am very bad at drawing, but also, I have so much room for improvement. Something incredibly fun about exploring new fields is that I can genuinely see the progress I am making. Last night I looked at my first drawings compared to the ones I am making today and I can see the changes in technique and skill, and that is very exciting!
In my documentary film class, I have not only learned new video skills (get excited to see those skills showcased in videos for Yale Admissions!) but also a lot about my friends. As I’ve explored making miniature films, I have often turned to working with my friends, interviewing them and following them with camera in hand. I’ve gotten to talk about their lives and their passions; I have learned so much about the people I hold near and dear to my heart in the best way possible. I’ve also had to work with my classmates, and have had wonderful experiences just being around my peers in a non-academic setting, even if it was technically for a grade.
This is my friend Anelisa, who put up with me essentially stalking her for my documentary filmmaking class.
I am so grateful that Yale classes push me out of my comfort zone. I sincerely believe that the liberal arts educational system that Yale has in place has forced growth upon me in ways I never expected. While it’s easy to complain about the variety of classes Yale has required me to take, at the end of the day I’m so happy for all that I have discovered by deviating from my initial plan.