By: Michelle Young, Staff Writer
Writing, breadth, and quantitative (WQB) requirements are sometimes pushed to the end of a student’s degree due to scheduling conflicts and looming dread. These courses can be intimidating because they force students to explore outside their departments, and will often require students to utilize skills in areas they haven’t yet refined — for instance, thesis and proposal writing skills in writing-intensive courses. However, completing these requirements first has some benefits over leaving them until the very end, and can be ultimately beneficial for students’ overall education.
As mentioned, students are exposed to different departments and subject areas other than their primary field of study through these requirements. While this can be daunting, it can also be a boon for those who aren’t sure about their major, or have undeclared majors. Students can pursue and explore subjects that they may not know they are passionate about, earlier in their degree, thus saving them from a costly change in major or, worse yet, sticking to a comparatively undesirable major due to sunk cost. It will also ensure that such exploration will count towards the ultimate completion of a degree, as it’s fulfilling a requirement.
Doing this sort of exploration work is important because not every student knows what they are truly interested in studying when they first start post-secondary education. I completed my WQB requirements before transferring to SFU, taking psychology, biology, and history courses. I had always been fascinated with evolutionary biology before taking these courses, but my interest in pursuing biology stopped there. Taking a B-sci biology course showed me that I truly despise anything to do with heavy memorization or the human body at the cellular level. Considering that I wanted to go into marine biology in high school, I’m glad I took this course early because it killed my curiosity for any biology-related courses or career choices and showed me that there was nothing more I wanted to pursue than writing.
Both instances — whether students find their passion with WQB courses or WQB courses point students toward their desired majors — allow for consideration of what students want to study and make the possibility of changing majors later on less likely.
Another great benefit of completing WQB courses early is that it equips students with a range of basic skills to apply to whatever major they eventually end up committing to. Part of what it means to go to an “engaged university” is the ability to apply a broad range of knowledge into one’s field of study. The more experience students have with different ideas early on, the easier it is to make these sorts of connections. For example, quantitative courses can aid students who pursue statistics later on, or if the courses teeter on the analytical side, they can help with any kind of argumentative or logical aspect needed for critical thinking in the humanities.
Finally, planning to take WQB courses earlier rather than later creates some wiggle room for students to be flexible if their schedule doesn’t go as planned. Some classes that are notorious for filling up quickly will force students to look for alternatives if they’re planning to graduate soon. There’s nothing worse than looking at your last year and worrying whether or not you’ll be able to beat the waitlist to get into courses that aren’t a part of your major.
Taking WQB requirements early can take a load off students’ chests and comes with a variety of benefits. It will allow them to explore different subjects early on, apply the knowledge and skills they’ve learned from these courses in their chosen majors, and provides students with flexibility later on into their degrees.
So what are you waiting for? Have you finished your WQBs yet?