FDRs are necessary for our future

Maybe through your humanities requirement, you discovered you are passionate about poverty studies

Harper Darden

When applying to colleges, I knew I would start off with an undecided major. My interests range across the STEM to humanities spectrum, and I knew it was going to take a year or two of college to be able to decide what exactly I wanted to major in.

This is only one of the reasons why Washington and Lee was the right choice for me. The school has strong programs in both STEM and humanities, and allows freshmen and sophomores to take classes across all departments, giving myself and other undecided students both the time and resources to pick a major.

I deeply appreciate the university’s Foundation and Distribution Requirements (FDRs). While the checklist appears daunting at first, the FDR requirements target basic skills that are necessary no matter what job you want and ultimately broaden all students’ futures.

Even in STEM professions, writing is necessary. You will hear adults, teachers and mentors repeat over and over that being able to write clearly and concisely is the most important skill someone can have, no matter the job. A student who is coming into college on a very STEM-oriented academic path might overlook the value of a basic writing education. But with FDRs, all students can grow as a writer and improve their chances at any occupation down the road.

As young adults, changing our minds is common and expected. Even once we have chosen our major, there is a chance that we will need or want to change it at the last minute of sophomore year. Having a solid foundation of several other topics will make it easy to pick a new major. Being exposed to different subjects will leave you informed, and will not leave you stuck at square one half way through college.

Conversely, having taken a myriad of classes over the course of freshman and sophomore year, the FDRs could help guarantee that you will love and thrive in your major. After being exposed to so many subjects, you can cross off topics you are not as passionate about and hone in on classes you know you have a talent and interest in. Either situation allows for flexibility and an informed perspective about your major and future.

FDRs also make minoring more accessible. Maybe through your humanities requirement, you discovered you are passionate about poverty studies, or through your arts requirement you found out you love film — even though you ultimately want to be a doctor. These discoveries could open the door to the Shepherd Program or uncover an interest, hobby or passion that you had no idea was there.

FDRs can only open doors. Specialized schools have their place, but they ultimately limit their students’ educational opportunities. But a liberal arts school with FDRs allows for both decided and undecided majors to expand their educational horizons, comfortably change their minds or confidently proceed with an education tailored to them and our current world.

Specialization often seems like the new norm, but it cannot thrive as well in such an interdisciplinary society. Our multifaceted world needs multifaceted people to be leaders and innovators. Washington and Lee’s FDRs provide us with the road map to jobs and opportunities we may not know even exist.