What classes should you take at W&L to prepare for the real world? And why is that not the right question to be asking?
At my station, there’s an inside joke we often repeat — the program clock is merely a suggestion. NPR tells me when during the “All Things Considered” broadcast I can read local news or give a weather forecast. But sometimes, be it breaking news, reports of a tornado sighting, or even just a pledge drive plea to listeners, we throw the program clock out of the window for an afternoon and do our own thing.
The same thought should apply to picking your courses at W&L. Having a major and a minor or concentration is important. But you also go to a renowned liberal arts school. The professors in Lexington are incredibly creative and there are a lot of fantastic classes if you just open your mind.
In my job, election season is always around the corner and covering local politicians is important for a local newsroom. When I took “Fairytales and Popular Culture” one spring term, I just thought the class sounded fun. But since then, I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve caught political candidates spinning fairy tale references into their speeches to show voters why they’re the best man for the job. Because of that class, I know why they’re doing it and what they hope to achieve by it. And that comes in handy when you have to break down the speech for your audience in the next newscast.
An acting class could come in handy when you have to lead your future company into the spotlight when you decide to be a publicly traded entity.
That field-emphasis geology class you sign up for will introduce you to the beautiful Virginia countryside and might spark a passion for an outdoor hobby that will be your stress reliever in twenty years.
And if you want to be a Congressman someday, take a class that studies a religion you know little or nothing about. It will give you insight on how other people think and reason.
The program clock is merely a suggestion. So throw it out of the window and pick up a course catalog. Look for something different. Go ask your friends with other majors what classes they recommend. Pay attention to the campus notices for brand new classes. You’ll quickly learn something you didn’t know – that might come in handy someday.
Stephanie Wiechmann is a radio host, reporter, and producer with NPR affiliate Indiana Public Radio in Muncie. With her trusty press pass, she has covered Jerry Falwell’s funeral, interviewed Garfield creator Jim Davis while both of them were barefoot, and was convinced to sing badly on the radio to fund-raise during a pledge drive.
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