Assmus: Trust a graduate, appreciate skills learned in undergraduate classes

There are many classes and assignments that seem pointless and invaluable during one’s undergraduate time. At Case Western Reserve University, for many, the SAGES program is like this, and many people trudge through it just to get through their seminars and portfolio in order to graduate.

Among other requirements for various undergraduate programs, there can be many times where the work you do doesn’t feel productive to your ultimate goal or even your major. However after being in graduate school for a semester, I have found many ways to use skills from my undergraduate time that I never thought I would use again.

I found myself back in the university archives this semester, doing research on the faculty of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences for its centennial celebration. Last year I wrote an article about my research there for my history major capstone paper, where I looked at the history of the school during WWI and wrote about the importance of history. I never thought that I would be doing this type of research again after I graduated, especially since I entered a social science field rather than continuing with the humanities.

However here I am, doing more historical research and using the skills I learned from my undergraduate degree to further my involvement in the university and to network within my field. Even though at the time it might not have seemed relevant or important, this type of research is clearly a skill that can be beneficial despite my choice of career and its differences.

Not only do I find parallels between my undergraduate classes and education to my research in graduate school, but also in my classes. Many of my social work classes have discussed policies I’d learned in political science classes and history ones. The history of social work and policies is also stressed in many of my classes and is important to understanding how to better help people.

Some of this history I already knew from my classes in undergraduate, and I realized how valuable those classes were. At first I felt unprepared going into the social sciences after being in the humanities for four years, but it turns out that I am very prepared and can use the skills from my undergraduate studies in multiple ways in classes and while working.

Even though some classes might have seemed pointless during my undergraduate time, no matter if they are SAGES ones or breadth requirements, they are still valuable and can come up again in post-grad careers or life. Writing is an important skill in any profession, at the least with communication in a career. So far I have found that many topics I thought I left behind, like statistics, come back and are important to understand.

Even though requirements for graduations can seem tedious, they can end up being important. Appreciating these types of classes is just an important way to foster an environment of learning, something that I think college or higher education should be based on rather than with the end goal of a particular career. If there was more appreciation for learning, then maybe required classes wouldn’t seem like such a struggle and be more enjoyable.

Abby Assmus is a graduate student who loves to learn.