Why You Should Take the Core Seriously

Having half of your classes predetermined for you is few people’s selling point for King’s. Yet, according to Phillip Reeves, Senior PPE major and regular contributor to King's 101, the robust knowledge this adds to all potential courses of study is powerful.

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Having half of your classes predetermined for you is few people’s selling point for King’s. Yet, the robust knowledge this adds to all potential courses of study is powerful.

By Phillip Reeves

It can be hard to take core classes seriously. Especially, if you’re not a PPE major, you can view them as irrelevant. An inspiring speech on the West by Loconte, Parks, or Brand definitely makes the pill easier to swallow, but still, mandatory classes that care not what your major is are easy to write off. Driven, determined individuals generally resent doing tasks which don’t seem essential to their personal advancement. If you have goals, why waste time on something that won’t directly lead to making those goals?

Not every core class will directly augment all other majors. Making that connection isn’t my aim. My purpose is essentially to show that when staff and faculty say “the core is based on ideas and fields that shape all societies and all industries,” they’re spot on.

Every college has a core curriculum, and if you’re, say, a business major, it can seem needless for you to take classes in chemistry. The reason for core curriculums is not because the university believes that every core class will directly apply to each major they offer. It’s because there’s value in all students, regardless of career, having a base knowledge about key aspects of life. It’s the same reasoning behind why the United States has mandatory primary and secondary education—certain knowledge is so important everyone must know it. King’s’ core is unique in that it focuses on politics, philosophy, economics, and religion. This liberal arts core is unique in higher education, providing direct competition with STEM education, and is even being recognized by engineering professors as essential education.

The expansiveness of the core curriculum helped me to decide what major I ultimately wanted to choose. I was a PPE major my first semester, a business major my second semester through end of sophomore year, and then returned to PPE for junior year onwards. Not a straightforward path at all, but without simultaneously being in business and PPE classes I wouldn’t have been able to make an informed choice on my major. If you’re still wondering what major is right for you, I’d suggest to do a trial run of what you’re considering switching to. If it’s not PPE, then take an elective in the program you’re considering. If it is PPE, then lock in with your core classes. You already have a comparison in front of you, just make the best use of it.

If you feel like you just don’t get King’s, I think your core classes can help bring more understanding. King’s isn’t close to being your regular college. There’s no quad. There’s no cafeteria. The core takes up half of your classes. Those don’t even get into the unique culture and language of King’s. The core isn’t just a stuffy list of classes we think will benefit you at some random point after graduation. Classes like Christianity & Society and APTAP are almost like Intro to King’s classes. They steep you in the concepts and key events that shape and inform the way our community operates. Even if you don’t think these classes will help you understand any part of life post-grad, they at least will help you better understand the community you’re currently in.

There is time to go major by major and show how the core can illuminate each one, but let’s look at one connection I think is very obvious but seemingly unappreciated at King’s—the core and MCA. Art and culture are not isolated fields. They directly respond to and lead political and social movements. German political graphic designer Klaus Staeck highlights that “we must remember that art is always set in a social context and is never just art.” Careful engagement with the core gives you the context necessary to understand the trends of art and design in the last 200 years. If you know the philosophical underpinnings of different worldviews, then you can more effectively articulate why TV and film trends are heading in specific directions. Additionally, the ability to see world class art firsthand at the Met, Moma, and other museums is bolstered by thoroughly understanding western civilization and seeing art as more than just its final form.

Even if you know your major, understand King’s, and get how the core supports your major, there’s still a significant reason to take the core seriously—integrity. When you sign your name to anything, it’s a signal of your support for what you signed, whether it’s putting your name on the line for a friend or signing a petition. Your name is your reputation. When you put your name on an assignment, that should be a signal that this assignment is your best work. Why would any of us put our name on something we don’t think is good? Not putting your best effort into the core (or any class) elements the power of your name to guarantee that you gave it your all. With the erosion of this power, people now have to wonder when they see your name on something if you chose to care about doing your best this time or not. You shouldn’t let something as harmless as a class jeopardize the power of your name.

Having half of your classes predetermined for you is few people’s selling point for King’s. Yet, the robust knowledge this adds to all potential courses of study is powerful. At the minimum, if it all comes down to career for you, know that few other applicants will be able to say they understand not just their own field but also the human drivers of both the cultural movements that led to this moment and the future movements that will carry us forward. This is an advantage that shouldn’t be squandered.

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