Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

In order to graduate, most colleges and universities require students to fulfill a general education requirement which includes taking classes across many different fields of study. While implementing this policy gives students the opportunity to explore possible fields of interest and to broaden their scope of knowledge, sometimes students simply feel forced to take these classes because they need it to graduate. In any case, there’s probably going to be at least one or two classes that are going to be boring, but there are ways to make your classroom experience less painful.

Class Selection

Before you even enter the class, know what you’re getting yourself into. If you already know how much you hate physics, don’t force yourself to take the class to get rid of one of your requirements if there are other options. There are certain classes that you might have to take, but make sure you minimize the number of classes that are going to be less interesting to you so that you won’t bore yourself too much. That being said, don’t be afraid to take a class you’re unfamiliar with. There’s a big difference between knowing what you don’t like and not knowing what the subject has to offer.

Another important factor to consider: class registration times. In some cases, the more credits you have, the earlier you can register for classes. USE THIS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE. Most of the time more popular classes fill up so quickly that by the time you can register, the class is already filled. But don’t despair! Always have backup courses that you can take so that you won’t find yourself scrambling to find some random class that you probably won’t end up liking.

I think the best way to judge whether or not you’re going to like the class is to look at the course syllabus. For a majority of classes, the professor usually posts the syllabus (or even check for past syllabi) on the page so that students have the opportunity to determine whether or not the class will fit in their schedule. If the professor doesn’t post the syllabus, try to ask other students who have taken the class. However be forewarned: take everything they say with a grain of salt. While they may have taken the class, their perception of the workload may be different from yours.

Time for Class

So you couldn’t find another class to meet this particular general education requirement. That’s okay! You might not have an absolutely amazing time in the class, but you have to do what you have to do to get through this.

If you find yourself literally dragging yourself to class each day (or just not going), that’s a sign that maybe you shouldn’t be in that class. However, there are cases where that class is your only way out, so try motivating yourself to get through the class so that you can move on to greater things! If you’re struggling in the class, definitely address this with a fellow student or the professor. Most professors realize that some students aren’t particularly interested in the subject, but as long as you don’t show too much disdain and reach out for help they’ll have no problem with assisting you through the class.

For some schools, there are other options to fulfill portions of the general education requirement. From study abroad to research programs, you may be able to find other ways to complete that pesky requirement that’s been bothering you all the way from freshman year.

If you’re still not satisfied with the class and feeling absolutely miserable, possibly reconsider your field of study, especially if you’re going to have to take higher-level courses related to the class. The general education requirement is meant to allow students to reassess their interests. Don’t feel too down if you finally realize you wanted to do something else. Instead, look forward to the new things in store for you. The college experience isn’t meant to always guide you straight towards your prior goals; it’s meant to uncover your true interests and passion.

Possible Solutions

Although you’re feeling reluctant to take the class, you decide to go with it anyways. You’re not having the time of your life, but it’s not going THAT terribly. Still, you would like your experience to be a little less painful, so here are some possible ways you can do so:

Take the course with a friend. Suffer together. Just kidding. Sort of. Nothing is worse than going through a class alone with no one really to help or at least complain with you. Things are still going to be rough, but at least you have someone who feels the same way (or can help you get through the class)!

Set a goal or reward for yourself at the end of the course. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel if you don’t see yourself getting anything out of the class. It doesn’t necessary need to be life-changing, but at least keep telling yourself you’re that much closer to completing a requirement. If there’s another class that’s right after this class, use that as your motivation to continue on with the current class.

Stop complaining. A little harsh, but in some cases this is true. Some people just continuously complain about how much they hate the class, but don’t realize that complaining is just making things worse. The class is what you make of it. Sure, you might not getting anything really insightful from it, but if you keep telling yourself how terrible the class is, you’re probably not going to get much work done. Make the best out of things and try not to let the class ruin your college experience too much.

Persevere. You know, there are a lot of possible solutions to getting through these kinds of classes, but the best thing you can do is to just deal with it. There’s not much you can do to change the structure or format of the class, so try to go through the class without too much resistance and you’ll be fine.

The End of the Semester

FINALLY. YOU’VE DONE IT. It wasn’t fun and painless, but it’s all over now! Time to move on to greater things (or another general education course, but let’s not think about that right now).



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the author

Raised in the outskirts of Austin, Texas, Eric Po is a freshman at Harvard University studying Economics. He loves listening to country music (particularly Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley), but you can’t blame him; he’s a Texan after all! He also enjoys outdoor activities, including soccer, running, and Ultimate. While he’s not sweating outside in the heat, Eric enjoys volunteering for nonprofit organizations that work with youth. Although he hopes to be a financial analyst in the future, he eventually wants to work with students as a counselor.

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