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  • Ethan Liebross

A Craving for More — Minors in College

I met with my advisor this past Monday. I love meeting with her. I know this may sound lovey-dovey, but she’s honest and intelligent and somehow always steers me in the right direction no matter how cloudy my judgment gets.


I talked to her about my major and possible minors. Sometimes in college, you feel like a kid in a candy shop.


I wish I could do everything; I think I told her this. I have a craving to learn International Politics, Spanish, Neuroscience, Anthropology, Sociology, Philosophy, Buddhism, African American Studies. The list is never-ending and always changing. I want to know more so I can share it; so I can feel well-rounded, worldly, and, quite frankly, a little less ignorant. Truth be told, I don't care so much about the resume.


That leads me to where I sit today: ambitious and a bit worried. I want to tack on a minor, but I'm not sure if I can.


Currently I’m like one of those seals trying to balance a ball on its nose. Well two balls...Biobehavioral Health and pre-med requirements.


Here are the med school requirements (a little sympathy would be great):

  1. 2 semesters of bio + labs 

  2. 2 semesters of gen chem + labs

  3. 2 semesters of org chem + labs

  4. 1 semester of biochem  

  5. 2 semesters of physics + labs 

  6. 2 semesters of math 

  7. 2 semesters of english 

  8. 2 semesters of social science 

  9. 1 semester of cell biology 


Other recommendations: 

  1. Psych 100/ Soc. 1 

  2. Stat 200 

  3. Genetics 

Stressed yet?


Yes, there’s overlap, but, disregarding it, that’s approximately 59 credits (without the other recommendations). That’s about the same as three minors combined. I want to learn more, but my current schedule is unforgiving.


As I sat in my advisor’s office feeling energetic, I set in motion three proposals. 1) A minor in neuroscience 2) A minor in Global Health and/or 3) A minor in CAS (Communications Arts and Sciences)


Here is where I dive in.


A minor in Neuroscience


Wouldn't that be amazing? Neuroscience is an open-frontier. Discoveries are happening literally every couple of days. These discoveries are changing life as we know it. Obese individuals now understand that they don't deserve all the blame; a little guy named the Lateral Hypothalamus is the culprit. We are treating mental illnesses better than ever before with medications. And fMRI technology has made it super easy to locate issues that previously would have gone undetected or mistaken for something benign, something like brain tumors.


And besides, the minor lets you take classes like Psychology of Fear and Stress and Neurological Bases of Human Behavior.


A minor in Global Health


Now, this is something that speaks to me. I’ve always wanted to contribute and pay a helping hand abroad. I feel that we have an unspoken obligation to help those who have fallen get back up as wealthy, Oreo-loving Americans. The minor is selective, with only around 20/60 applicants getting a spot, but I think it’s worth the shot. When I think of what I want to do with a medical degree, this is it. Through this minor, you learn about how diseases spread, the challenges of public health education, and how to best implement various health interventions. There is also a four-week-long field experience in Africa.



A Minor in CAS


This is the minor that has just recently made its way into my prefrontal cortex. Maybe I have the unpopular opinion (not sure), but CAS 136 and 138T have been my favorite classes at Penn State so far. They have allowed me to develop my writing and speaking skills at a pace much faster than any other English class I've taken. Learning about civic issues and matters of policy and communicating them has been exciting.


I've been reading and also repeatedly thinking about what separates a mediocre doctor from a great doctor. It is what they don't teach you in medical school: how to interact with people and how to communicate, so people want to listen—the same things CAS has in their bio on their home page.



I'm not sure what will happen in the next three or so years, but I'd like to think if I follow one of these paths, I'll be in a better spot.


Originally published: March 1st, 2019

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