Advice from the Other Side: Stay Flexible

Have you ever wondered why there are distribution requirements at BU? If you come to BU knowing in your heart of hearts that you want to be a mechanical engineer, why are you forced to sit through a humanities requirement? If you know that you want to be an English professor, why must you suffer the humiliation that is your statistics class? The distribution requirements at BU allow you to gain a breadth and depth of education that is valuable in a multitude of ways. I know that it can be hard to see this when you’re sitting in a class that you may not be extremely passionate about, but here are some ways that your liberal arts education will pay off (sometimes literally) in the long run:

Intellectual Flexibility

Nobody wants to learn with, work with, or really even talk to somebody who only knows about one very specific thing. Your professors and future employers are looking for intellectual flexibility, the ability to understand, analyze and work from a variety of perspectives. This skill can really only be cultivated through having to learn in different disciplines. Even the way that you write differs between your BIO lab report and your paper on Aristotle; in learning the difference between writing for the sciences and writing for the humanities, you’re developing a flexibility that will allow you to perform well in a variety of different academic or employment contexts. If you can analyze data and present that data in a compelling format (ie. your engaging writing style), you’re a more well-rounded thinker than the person who was trained to only do one or the other.


The intellectual curiosity that can come from being exposed to a variety of disciplines helps build broad interests that you might want to pursue outside of your career.


Multiple Interests Bring Multiple Income Sources

Have you heard of a “side hustle”? This is when somebody holds down their full-time job and manages to bring in income on the side by doing something that they’re (usually) passionate about. The intellectual curiosity that can come from being exposed to a variety of disciplines (like you are at BU) helps build broad interests that you might want to pursue outside of your career (for money!). Perhaps you go on to be a scientist with a love of writing about film because of a WR class that you took. Freelance writing and blogging have become extremely popular ways to earn a little bit of money on the side, and this is something that you could start doing now if you’re interested. Maybe that Graphic Design course that you took sticks with you and you parlay your interest in designing t-shirts to your very own Etsy store. My point is that you can be passionate about a variety of different things, but you won’t be able to develop those passions (and the side hustle that they could potentially bring) without fully embracing all of the different courses that you take here at BU.

Intellectual flexibility just makes you a more developed, well-rounded person in general, so don’t be afraid of that statistics class—develop yourself!

Sarah Farkas blogs for Advice from the Other Side from the BU Educational Resource Center (ERC).

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