Taking a Course that Seems Pointless? This Might Change Your Perspective

by Branwyn Wilkinson

Opinion Contributor

Another semester is upon us. By this point, you should have a pretty clear idea of what your courses will be about, and hopefully you are looking forward to most of them. However, I realize for many of us there is probably at least one course that we just can not see the point of.

Maybe you are taking it because it was the only one that fulfilled a prerequisite for the college core, or the honors program. Maybe you needed another class, and it was the only one that fit your schedule. Regardless of how you ended up taking it, the course just doesn’t seem to fit with what you want to do as a career, or even what you’re interested in.

When you find yourself in a course like that, it can be tempting not to put your best effort in. After all, it’s easier (and more fun) to just make fun of it with your friends. But there is value in these courses, if you know where to look for it.

For example, the other day one of my professors pointed out that most of the students in his lit class probably didn’t care much about literature. And he’s right; many people, outside of the English program, often don’t realize how much literature can teach us. But everyone has something to learn from literature. And this is just one example of a useful subject that might fall outside someone’s major or comfort zone.

Literature, or rather, literacy, is important in any form of higher education. It is one of the best ways to communicate and share information. Shared information leads to increased knowledge, so is crucial to any field of study. Even fictional writings help build knowledge.

Literature teaches us history. It teaches us about how society was, and why it is the way it is now. From reading, we learn to question the world.

So even if you’re an ABEC, or biology major, taking a lit course will make you a more critical thinker. And that’s the kind of skill you can apply anywhere.

On the other hand, maybe you are an English major, but you ended up taking a math course this semester. This too can teach the kind of skills one can apply anywhere.

What is math at its most basic level? Problem-solving. So no, it might not be likely that you will ever have to solve for X in your job, but it is likely that you will have to solve some kind of problem. And math teaches us how.

It teaches that there is more than one way to solve a problem, and to try a different method if you can’t find the answer on your first try. By taking a math class, you realize that other people have different ways of doing things. So next time you face a tough assignment, you are more likely to try consulting a friend of colleague for their opinion.

Any course can be useful. The key to figuring out how it can help you is to look beyond the subject matter. What are you doing in the course? Are you analyzing society? Working in groups to communicate something? These are all are useful skills outside the classroom.

So don’t spend the semester counting down the days until that seemingly useless course is finally over. After all, you’re going to have to show up to class anyway; it’s better not to feel like you’re wasting your time. Figure out what you can gain from the course, and use this as motivation to put in the effort to do well. You just might find the course more enjoyable than you ever could have expected.

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