When my friend asked me, “Why are you taking Women in Europe since 1500?” I had no idea how to answer.

Like many students at the beginning of the semester, I share my schedule with friends to compare classes. Of course, it’s usually an unspoken competition for who has the hardest workload, and the most interesting classes. But when my friend asked about this elective, I didn’t have a clear answer ready.

It wasn’t a required course, and there were other electives more relevant toward my major. But upon further thought, I realized taking classes on new subjects is incredibly important to intellectual growth. Here are three big reasons why.

Develop New Ways of Thinking

Get some perspective! It may seem counterintuitive for a Film major like me to take a class on such a narrow historical topic, but it’s all about stepping outside of your academic box to get a breath of fresh air. It’s easy to get lost in the academic world of your major, so I think it’s important to gain some knowledge about the world around you. Even though it might be a new topic for you, you get the most out of it when you really try to get involved (plus, it will impress your professor.)

Get a Little Culture

You’ll always be able to connect the classroom to your everyday life. We tend to only want to pay attention to the classes we think are going to be important to us later. But how do you really know what will be important later? The truth is, you never really know when you’ll be able to whip out some facts about the first prospectors in New Guinea that you learned an Anthropology class--even though you are a mathematics major. You don’t have to travel to new places to become more cultured, sometimes you only have to go to class.

A Broader Social Circle

All day I could meet with people who love film and want to make films, but meeting someone with a different passion is important, too. Sometimes there is more to learn from those who are different than you. It’s also a great opportunity for you to work on your “schmoozing” skills. Meeting people with new ideas can broaden your perspective on life and help you reflect in entirely new ways.

I could have given my friend a long-winded answer about the benefits of learning new subjects, but I simply responded, “Why not?” While I have the opportunity to take a broad range of classes, why should I restrict myself to things I may already know? My time in college is not just for a paper degree, but for a larger purpose of learning about the world around me. It’s for digging in and geeking out. As students, I believe it is our duty to progress intellectually, and we can do this by taking classes simply for the pleasure of learning.

Authored by Axel Ortiz

Axel studied as an American Honors student at Mercer County Community College before transferring to complete his bachelor's degree. He writes about how to succeed at college, and find adventure while doing it.