Tips to Getting the Most from Interdisciplinary Studies

Psychology program

Most people who went to college are happy they did it. Not only do many people consider their time in college to be some of the best times of their lives and to be “worth it” but people with bachelor’s degrees or higher earn more money. The Pew Institute has found that people who have an undergraduate degree earn an average of $45,500 per year. People who attended some college make about $30,000 and people who only finished high school tend to make about $28,000 per year. The decision about what to major in is hard for a number of people. A bachelors degree in interdisciplinary studies can be one really good way to get yourself ready for a career.

Students who pursue an interdisciplinary studies degree have a lot of flexibility in what classes they can take. This is considered to be a very customizable degree plan that prepares students for a wide range of careers and jobs. Basically, once the “core” classes have been finished, students who are majoring in interdisciplinary studies have almost completely free reign over the other classes they take. Unlike a psychology program or a family studies degree where students have more required classes for their majors, students in interdisciplinary studies are free to take only the classes that interest them. Some colleges and universities refer to this as a general studies degree. These are some tips to getting the most from this kind of degree.

  • Ask a lot of questions. The more questions you ask and the more you speak up for yourself in class, the more you will get out of your college experience. If you are unclear on a concept, there are probably other people in your class who feel the same way as you but were too shy to speak up.
  • Use college as a time to fill up your “brain attic.” The famous detective compares the brain to an attic. When you are in college you have a chance to fill that up with information and knowledge you gain from the different classes you take and the people you meet. Students in interdisciplinary studies can make the collection in their “brain attics” as diverse and eclectic as they like.
  • Find similarities between fields of study that other people do not see. Democrats and Republicans, for instance, may see themselves as being very different but they are really trying to do the same thing, just in different ways. Physics and theatre may seem like very different disciplines but maybe you can find things that link them if you look hard enough.
  • Your peers and your professors can be mentors. It is generally assumed that you will learn something from your professors but you can learn just as much from your fellow students. A lot of college learning happens not in the classroom but in the dorm room. Get feedback from students from a variety of majors. Getting different perspectives on life and school can be a great experience and is part of what college is all about.
  • Be prepared to be humbled. It always feels good to be at the head of a class or to do well but we learn as much from our mistakes and the times when we do not do as well as we would like. Trying new things is often scary and hard but that is what makes it a good learning experience. If we always stick to the safe things that we know, we never give ourselves a chance to grow and change. Staying the same for our entire lives is a whole lot scarier than trying something new.

Regardless of what you major in when you are in college, the experience will shape the rest of your life. In 2013, almost 90% of Millennials with bachelor’s degrees were employed full-time. Even people who do not ever use their college degree for what they intended, admit their experiences in college helped shape the way they think and prepared them in many other ways for their careers. A degree in interdisciplinary studies can be a great way to get ready for any kind of career that interests you even if you do not yet know what that is.

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