I’m sure a lot of the people who read this blog would agree that the open curriculum of the University of Rochester was one of the main factors which ultimately led to their decision to attend/want to attend this University. For those of you who are unaware, the University of Rochester does not have any required courses, except for the freshman writing course, of which there is a great list of options. In place of requirements, we use a cluster system, which allows you to explore the two branches of learning outside of your major. For example, if you major in mathematics, a natural science, you need to complete clusters in both social sciences and the humanities.
I recently declared a business major, in anticipation of going abroad next semester. My natural science cluster is in calculus (as it was required for my major but outside of my major’s branch of study, this is common for people studying business/economics). My humanities cluster is however much more interesting to me and may end up becoming a major/minor, and that’s the real reason why I decided to write this blog post. Don’t just commit to finishing the first cluster that you start!
I started off thinking that I would cluster in Spanish and I took SP152 during the spring of my freshman year. I decided that this wasn’t a good fit for me and I didn’t want to take two more Spanish classes to complete that cluster. Then, this past summer, I again stumbled upon my love of reading, as I became engulfed in the A Song of Ice and Fire books. As I was finalizing my courses for this fall, I decided to take ENG247, Science Fiction, and it has become my favorite class that I’ve taken in all of college thus far. We read a wide variety of short stories out of a science fiction anthology and had incredibly stimulating discussions during every class. I learned a lot about modern science as I read both hard science fiction and non-fiction pieces related to the short stories. If you have the slightest interest in short stories, science fiction, or science in general, I highly recommend this course!
After finishing ENG247, I have decided that I want to continue my studies in English and I am currently enrolled in ENG252, Modern Fiction. This class is even more reading than ENG247; I typically read about a book a week of dense modernist fiction. However, the discussions are still incredibly stimulating and I feel that I’ve gained a lot of perspective on the world, from both the books and the discussions. I’m still figuring out how many ENG classes I’m going to have time for in my schedule, as I have a wide range of interests and can only succeed in so many classes per semester.
Either way, my advice is to deeply consider your interests and don’t finish a cluster just because you started it. Be adventurous and you just might find something that you feel passionate about!