Loyola Magazine

Feels: The Importance of Freshmen UGS Courses

By Alex Purcell

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If college isn’t a time for expanding your mind and perspective, what is it for?


The piece of paper you receive at graduation will only get you so far. The importance of attending college isn’t just about getting a career afterward, as many believe. It helps, obviously, but if you can’t think critically, write (semi-)eloquently or engage in different learning processes, you’ll find it difficult to thrive in whatever career aspiration you choose.


This is why courses like first-year UGS and Liberal Arts electives are so crucial to complete. Although no first-year student can escape the inevitability of a first-year UGS, this requirement is extremely important in personal development.


I know, this all sounds very cliché, but bear with me. So many people are stuck on this negative stigma behind courses that promote interpretive understandings of the world around us, whether through literature, history or another medium. I hear many students drone on about how “stupid” it is that they’re being forced to take these classes and dissect the course catalog to figure out which one of these UGS courses is the easiest and most simplistic.


For my UGS course, I chose to take Russian Science Fiction. I didn’t choose it because I heard it was painless and would secure my GPA, but because I had never once even thought about sci-fi in Russia. Now, I’m excited to go to every class because I know I’ll be learning about something I’ve never even heard of before. Knowing the author of an obscure Russian novel about mad scientists and space exploration may not benefit me in my future marketing career, but the cultural awareness and analytical skills I have gained from this class will stay with me forever.


The importance is that I delved into a topic I had never heard of before and learned how to accommodate it to what I have learned. I was forced to think outside of the box when it came to film reviews and the course taught me how to appreciate all modes of expression.


I strongly believe it is not only beneficial, but necessary that students take a course that puts them in an uncomfortable environment because that is the key to becoming an intellectual person. Being challenged to take on a new route of learning by adapting your style to whatever topic is given will reward you for the rest of your life. And besides, how cool is it to say that you’ve studied Russian sci-fi? It’ll be a babe magnet, no question.


The thought-provoking elements of the UGS courses are a part of what makes UT-Austin so incredible. These classes dare us to do something unusual and unique, much like many other aspects of this university. I think the first-year courses should remain a part of the curriculum for every student to get the opportunity to explore and should be appreciated as such.