Why You Should Take Classes You Might Not Be Good At

Registration for fall semester here at the U is quickly approaching, and registration times were assigned earlier this month. There’s anxiety there for everyone, whether you’re trying to fulfill all of your gen eds, making sure you haven’t accidentally forgotten about a major requirement, or wondering if you have time to fulfill a minor. There’s a ton to think about for everyone.

But within all of our individual requirements, there’s usually some leeway to take a class outside of our regular parameters. Obviously this isn’t the case for the triple majors out there, but graduation requirements stipulate 120 total credits and a certain number of upper-division credits outside of your major.

Most of us probably have room in our schedule this semester for one unplanned class that isn’t a major, minor, or gen ed and is entirely up to your discretion and interests. You can take another elective within your major, take a class in a different department, or even a different college.

So what interests you outside majors and minors? What do you want to learn more about that your major can’t give you?

When you’re making your schedule for next semester, try to take a class that you don’t know that you’ll be good at.

The trap I fall into in choosing classes is that I’ll take things that sound like something I already know how to do well. It’s not that the subject matter isn’t different than my major or that I’m not exploring different departments, but when choosing classes I tend to stick to my strengths. I’m good at writing papers, reading books, and writing papers about reading books, so that’s the genre of class I tend to stick closely to.

But I already know how to do those things, the same way a biology major knows how to approach a laboratory setting or an art major knows how to set up an easel. There are certain things that come naturally to each of us, and our majors probably reflect those interests and talents.

But when you’re choosing electives, there’s something to be said for taking a class that depends on a skill that you don’t already have. Your major classes can cultivate the skills you’ve already obtained, because your major should be something you feel proficient it.

Outside of those classes, however, it’s important to learn other skills that you might not have a chance to later. College is the only time in all of our lives where our primary purpose is to learn. That won’t happen again in the job market, where you’ll be using the skills you gain here. So why not try to obtain a new one?

Most of us don’t have the time or patience to teach ourselves a skill, at least not with the proficiency a university-level teacher could. That takes a lot of energy that might not be easily expendable in the future, when careers and families suddenly become much more important than learning how to speak a different language.

So take a class you might not be good in and learn how to do something new. Ever wanted to learn more about astronomy? Have you always been interested in film? Wanted to play the piano? Take a poetry writing class? It might be a little anxiety provoking to be out of your comfort zone, but you might never get another chance to try these things.

You could even really benefit from it when you graduate or discover a new passion or hobby of yours. Maybe you’ll have the time to add a minor in something that you never would’ve known you were interested in until you tried it out. Or maybe you’ll just have a good time and have a few more skills in a different field of study than you had last semester.

It’s something to think about as we all start registering for classes - college doesn’t last forever, and we should learn as much as we can while we’re here.