No matter what you choose to study in college, it is a good idea to take a variety of classes to discover what interests you.  One of the biggest mistakes you can make in school is to avoid exploring subjects not familiar to you or out of your comfort zone.  College is a time to broaden the scope of your knowledge in an environment that encourages you to take chances and try something new.

Having gone through three years of college, I’ve experienced several kinds of courses.  Some were excellent, while others were a complete waste of time.  Based on this, allow me to outline the four types of classes that every person should take at some point in his or her college career.

College class

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The GenEds

Okay, so in most liberal arts schools, these are requirements anyway.  General Education courses may seem tedious or even unnecessary, but there’s a reason they make everybody take them.  These classes provide the instruction of basic skills that every student will put to use at some point, such as writing or quantitative reasoning (your math/computer aptitude).

Requirements often also include enrolling in courses in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and occasionally something having to do with diversity or global awareness.  These tend to be lower level classes and are meant to supply students with a fundamental knowledge of the subjects.  For example, by signing up for Intro to Communication or General Biology, you gain access to the essential information at a manageable degree of intensity.

Lesson Learned:

Don’t balk at the basics; really use them to figure out what direction you’d like to go with your studies and flex your academic muscles so that they get into the shape you’ll need them to be in later in school and after graduation.

The Consciousness Raiser

These are the life-changing courses; the ones that make you view the world from a completely new perspective than before.  Different subjects create an impact on different people.  However, by the end of college almost everyone can name a class that has been lastingly influential.

Some people consider courses on ethics or law to have these defining qualities.  For me, it was every class I took in the Women’s and Gender Studies department.  From my class on Gender and Human Rights to Comparative Feminisms, I became aware of the gender inequalities that still exist in this world and realized my enthusiasm for revealing this to others in order to implement change.

Lesson Learned:

When you find a subject to which you have a passionate response, continue to register for those classes.  You may stumble across your ultimate career path in the process.

 

The Challenge

College is certainly about discovering what you want to do with your life, but it is also about challenging yourself in a space that does not involve as much risk as in the “real world.”  You can push the boundaries of what you think your capabilities are and unearth the extent of your potential in the professional field without having to worry about keeping a job.

I’ve found that the most rewarding classes tend to be those that are deemed the hardest.  If this is not enough to sway you, then maybe this information will: many schools offer students the choice at some point to take a class pass/fail.  Therefore, instead of having to worry about getting a certain grade, you just have to do well enough to pass the class and can instead focus on actually learning for the benefit of learning!

Lesson Learned:

Don’t be afraid to take a difficult class; even if it is for a grade, you may just surprise yourself with how well you do.

A+ paper

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The Easy A

While it is important to challenge yourself, college is admittedly pretty tough at times.  At this point it can be helpful to take a course in which you know you will do well so that you may distribute your effort where you most need it.  However, you should be careful about your selection of an “easy A” class.

I had to find out the hard way that an “easy A” to some could mean something very different to others.  While classes like Logic, Reasoning, and Persuasion or Planet Earth were rumored to be almost painfully easy, I learned that those subjects just didn’t click with me.  It turns out I struggled more with these lower level classes than with the more advanced ones in my major.

Lesson Learned:

Try to take fun courses that align with your personal interests, since you will usually consider them “easy A” subjects because you actually enjoy doing work for them.  Every person has specific strengths and weaknesses — cater to yours!

As you can see, choosing what classes to take can be a bit complex, but it can also be very rewarding when you find ones that are fulfilling.  To help make the process less stressful, you can ask your friends what courses they liked, ask a favorite professor if he or she is teaching anything that semester, or set up an appointment with an academic advisor.  This website shows you ratings of the professors at your school by students who have already had them so you can get an idea of which ones to definitely take a class with and which ones to avoid at all costs.

The purpose of all this is to expose yourself to a variety of courses.  No matter what you decide to major in, and whatever your minor may be, try something different.  Trust me, you would much rather say to yourself, “Well, I guess that wasn’t for me,” than, “I really wish I had taken that one class…”

 

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