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Making Science Optional in College

Executive Summary

Currently, many colleges require that art students undertake science courses as their minors. The main argument behind such a direction is that art students will be thus equipped with prerequisite science skills, which they can then apply in their field. However, such an argument has not considered the incorporation of science units in most of the arts programs, which on their own, can help to equip art students with basic skills like statistics, computer studies, and the use of the internet.

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A number of issues that influence the intention and the process of learning should be considered on the subject above. For example, the need for someone to develop pleasure and interest so as to be easily and appropriately educated points to the importance of allowing students the freedom to choose specific fields of study that are of interest to them. The significance of art programs in developing our society cannot be easily ignored. Thus, developing a level of seriousness and dedicated study for students that are undertaking an art course should be emphasized. With such knowledge, it will be possible for colleges to cut the budget that they often spend on science programs for art students.


Many colleges require that students undertake one minor area of specialty in addition to their main course of study. The main purpose of such an arrangement is to produce graduates that are academically all-rounded. As such, a student that is undertaking an arts degree as a major is required to undertake a scientific course as a minor and vise-versa. Considering the overall purpose of college education, it is important to ask ourselves whether the practice of compelling art students to take up science as a minor is worthwhile.

As it will become clear here, taking up a science course as a minor does not necessarily improve the academic knowledge and well-being of a student. As such, I present here that for students majoring in art courses, science courses should remain optional. With such knowledge, it will be possible for colleges to cut the budget that they often spend on science programs for art students; hence, help in cutting tuition fees for art programs

Problem Statement

Without considering the academic interests and capabilities of their students, many colleges require that art students undertake a science minor in addition to their main course of study.


So as to understand the need for colleges to make the learning of sciences optional, I intend to review a collection of research literature on the relationship between freedom and optimal learning.


The importance of obtaining knowledge in the field of science cannot be ignored. As it is obvious to all of us, our world has gravitated more towards technology. The capacity to utilize some of the technologies that are available is becoming a prerequisite for everyone (Alexander, 1995). A capacity to use the computer and the internet is now considered as a literacy skill. With such thinking, it is easy to top see why many colleges will insist that art students take up science as a minor. However, a factor that has been forgotten in such kind of an argument is that currently, all curriculums have incorporated units that accommodate prerequisite skills in science. In my college, courses in computer studies are available in all of the arts programs that I know of. As such, it is no longer logical to insist that all students take up science units so as to gain important and basic science skills (Hidi, 1998).

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Different Interests

Often, all of us will tend to develop an interest in different areas. Such an interest is normally dependant on our talents, experiences, and careers. While one student may be gifted in mathematics, another will be gifted in humanities and so on. The selection of specific and unique programs for each student at college reflects on their interests. Often, a student that has chosen to specialize in arts is normally expected to have a specific interest in that chosen area (Alexander, 1995).

Therefore, compelling such a student to undertake units in science amounts to overburdening such (with learning that is of little interest to him). It is very difficult for a student to concentrate and focus his learning in an area that is of little interest to him. Instead, such a student may end up developing a negative attitude towards education in general. The relationship between interest (hence happiness) and success, as it has been suggested by positive psychologists, is shown in the graphic below.

Different Interests

The element of interest remains of great significance in the process of learning (Hidi, 1998). Without enjoying the process of learning, a student may end up unhappy or even stressed. Since the practice of compelling a student to undertake learning in an area that is of little interest to him will often lead to uninteresting learning, such a practice will erode a student’s interest in learning; thus, making learning the hardest of tasks (Hidi, 1998).

As has been noted, many college students are developing stress and depression. One way of reducing the levels of stress among college students is to make learning enjoyable and interesting. Any factor that can upset the psychological well being of a student, such as uninteresting learning, should never be ignored. Therefore, when a student has little or no interest in science, he should not be forced to learn science. For the concerned student, such a direction can only lead to the development of poor confidence and a poor attitude towards education (Alexander, 1995).

Time Resource

Usually, students are expected to utilize their time resources in a useful and fruitful way. In such a direction, a student is expected to engage in activities that will lead to his academic, social, spiritual, and physical development (Alexander, 1995). As many positive psychologists have noted, the daily activities we perform can only have a positive impact on us if they are done in freedom. While it may be argued that the time utilized in science learning by art students is useful in enhancing science skills for such students, such a process is often undertaken with a less degree of freedom for the concerned student; hence, the impact is negative (Bronner, 1998).

The proportion of time that has been taken by an uninterested art student in learning science can be utilized in more pleasurable and meaning full activities for a student. Such activities will obviously lead to better self-development. Moreover, such a direction is obviously more enhancing than attending classes with unexciting, tiring and monotonous lessons (Bronner, 1998). For such student, he may find more time to read for units in his arts program, engage in entertainment and sport activities, and even visit family and friends.

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The Purpose of Education

Every program that is offered in college should always strive to bring out the best of talents in students. Students that have undergone proper learning should then be available to help in improving our society. Today, the impact of art programs in improving our society cannot be ignored. While science will often help our society to enjoy a better life through the use of innovative technologies, art courses will often contribute to important social aspects of our society (Schraw, 1998).

The often overlooked, but massive contribution of art programs to our society cannot be ignored. For a student that has decided to undertake an arts course in college, compelling him to undertake studies in science will amount, at least in some way, to discouragement. It is like telling such a student that what he is learning for a major is unimportant. A better direction would be to encourage such a student to focus on the area of study that he has chosen.

Although it is often mistaken that art courses are less challenging and unimportant, I consider art programmes to parallel their science programs in complexity and importance (Schraw, 1998). Here, the issue be limited to just perform well in examinations, it is more about becoming fully educated to the level of developing innovations that can be fruitful to our society. So as to achieve such a level of learning, there is a need to undertake massive reading and research in an area of interest (Alexander, 1995).

The Importance of Choice

In agreement with emerging societal values that should be highly regarded by all of us, it is important we develop the culture of encouraging the right of freedom in our academic institutions. By implanting such values in our college students, we can expect an upcoming generation that will uphold the right of freedom (Alexander, 1995). Therefore, the psychological impact of compelling unwilling students to undertake courses that are uninteresting to them should not be ignored.

Rather, we need to encourage our college students to value their interests and freedom of choice (Bronner, 1998). In order to produce the best results of education in students, it is useful that college students view education as a free choice that they have willingly undertaken for their benefits. It is not useful at all for students to view education as a cumbersome process that they carry to safeguard their career interests (Bronner, 1998).


Today, the importance of education has continued to become clear to our society. With the ever increasing social complexities, global disasters, and global population, it is becoming clearer that higher levels of innovation in science and arts will be required. Therefore, the challenge is for our colleges to produce educated personalities that will help in tackling the many challenges that will always be present in our society. To some extent, education is not about taking up multiple courses, and obtaining high grades. Rather, education is more about equipping yourself with interesting, challenging, and inquisitive knowledge.

A meaningful process of education can hardly exist in an environment that is devoid of freedom and interest to someone. Such a truth needs to be considered when debating on the issues that I have discussed above. As I have presented here, it is useful that art students are not compelled to undertake science courses. Apart from helping colleges to cut the budgets that they normally spend on science programs for art students, such a direction is important in enhancing the capacity of students to enjoy, and therefore, fruitfully participate in learning.

Reference List

Alexander, P. A. (1995). Interelationship of knowledge and interest. Journal of Educatonal Psychology, 87(4), 559-575.

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Bronner, E. (1998) College Freshmen Aiming for High Marks in Income New York Times pp. A2, A20-A23.

Hidi, S. (1998). Situatonal interest and learning. Kiel: IPN.

Schraw, G. (1998). The role of choice in reader engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(26), 1-18.

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