Fieldtrips Aren’t Just for 6 Year-Olds… Are They?

Incoming students often worry about academics – I mean, it’s college… academics are what we are here for, right? So, having some anxiety about the topic is understandable and normal, don’t you worry!

Coming into college, I was 100% undecided about what academic path I was going to pursue. Questions from adults regarding my ultimate career path sent me into a frenzy and my cortisol levels flying through the roof. However, there were three things I was absolutely sure of:

  1. I didn’t want to be an engineer
  2. I didn’t want to be an artist
  3. I didn’t want to be an architect

This helped eliminate three of the five academic divisions I had the option of applying to at Wash U – a good start! My remaining options were the Olin School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. Despite a sprouting interest in business, applying directly to the business school felt a bit daunting. It was almost as if I were signing my life away to the big, scary, unpredictable world of business that seemed like a one way street with no U-turns. Therefore, applying to the College of Arts and Sciences seemed to be the most logical decision.

After taking Introduction to Psychology during my first semester in the College of Arts and Sciences, I quickly came to the realization that I actually really enjoy the phenomenon that is psychology. Learning about the way people think was like gaining a super power of sorts. But, I knew for certain I wasn’t one to become a clinical psychologist or anything of that nature. With the interest I had in business lingering in the back of my mind like a pesky little fly that wouldn’t go away coupled with my newly discovered interest in psychological and brain sciences, I spent many a late night on my laptop researching potential career paths combining these two areas of study.

Ultimately, I spent a lot of time speaking with advisors and exploring different options as to how I could combine these interests of mine. After strongly considering a complete transfer to the business school to pursue Marketing and make this newfound interest in psychology a minor instead, I decided to challenge myself. I had one of those cheesy “light bulb moments” while meeting with the dean-of-the-day one afternoon: I was going to remain in the College of Arts and Sciences and pursue a double major (crazy, I know!). On second thought, it isn’t actually that crazy at all. There are so many students at Wash U who will get a major and two minors, two majors and a minor, pursue a dual degree… honestly, the possibilities are endless! What was surprising to me is that despite this decision to take on two majors, I still had time to take courses that had absolutely nothing to do with either one of my majors!

That brings me to the point of this post – my favorite class I’ve taken thus far at Wash U: Interdisciplinary Introduction to Children’s Studies. There are three reasons I loved this class so much:

1. I love kids!

Since the age of 12, I have loved kids! I’ve babysat for countless families, am thoroughly and completely obsessed with my little cousins, worked at the Nursery School here on campus, and last summer, I worked at the exact same Montessori school that I attended at the age of 3 (that was definitely a blast from the past!).  That being said, I’ve never necessarily felt a push to work with children professionally. However, when I saw this course listed on WebStac, I wanted to take it immediately and was able to even though it didn’t correspond with either of my majors. Because I love kids, and because I’m interested in children and childhood, I took this course. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t pursuing a degree in Children Studies and I love that about academics here at Wash U!

2. “What does ‘interdisciplinary’ even mean?”

Upon signing up, I don’t think I fully comprehended what “interdisciplinary” even meant and most definitely didn’t realize the benefits of an interdisciplinary course. I realized that the interdisciplinary approach is actually super interesting and something I want to begin applying to my studies as a whole. It challenged me to analyze children and childhood from multiple different lenses. For example, one week we would look at the topic through the lens of a psychologist while the next week we would consider it from a historical perspective. This approach showed me that there are countless ways we can understand and look at a single topic, which will do nothing but broaden our overall understanding – something I would consider to be imperative in this dynamic, complex, ever-evolving world we live in.

3. Fieldtrips! (Yes, I said fieldtrips… like the one’s from elementary school!!!

The best part of this course, by far, was the fact that it had fieldtrips built in! Yes, you heard me correctly… FIELDTRIPS! Throughout the course, we had the opportunity to go to the Magic House, a children’s museum housed in a 5,500 square foot Victorian mansion. I got to spend two hours that I would otherwise be in class, reliving my favorite childhood pastimes all whilst deepening my understanding of the material we were learning in the classroom. What more could a stressed, over-involved college students ask for? Absolutely nothing.

We also had the opportunity of touring the St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center. I have always had an interest in law enforcement so I was so excited to have this experience and again, had the opportunity to explore yet another one of my interests that is disconnected from my course of study. We got a tour of the facility, learned about the ins and outs of the program, and even got to interact with some of the detainees.

As you can tell, academics at Wash U are incredibly flexible and allow students to explore their varying interests in a variety of different ways. Whether that’s double majoring, taking a course that is completely disconnected from your field of study, or having the opportunity to utilize the greater St. Louis area as an extension of the classroom, this dynamic learning environment has proven invaluable throughout my time here thus far.

If you take anything from this post, just remember…

  1. It is okay to be interested in 64,894,135 different things!
  2. Study what you want to study!
  3. Your fieldtrip days aren’t necessarily over (get excited)!