Kinda sucks, doesn’t it?
You enter college thinking it’s about taking courses on topics you want to study, not more general education requirements.
In reality, most of your first two years of college are spent taking these mandatory classes (aka your “gen ed” courses). Like most things in life, there are pros and cons when it comes to these required subjects.
For example, when you’re undecided on your major general education can help you figure out what classes interest you. Sometimes the topics we think we’re passionate about--or think we should be passionate about--don’t really interest us at all.
Either way, since gen eds are a must-do for graduating from college let’s talk about what you can do to make the most of them.
How to Enjoy Your General Education Classes in College
Find Out Who Teaches the Class (Before You Sign Up)
If you haven't already heard of it, Rate My Professors is the website that will become the game-changer to your college experience. You just plug in the name of a professor into their search box (or the name of your school) and you’ll find reviews/ratings of their classes from your fellow students.
Obviously, you should use your best judgment with the reviews. Not every review is reflective of the professor. The students’ effort affects their experience in class too. However, it’s great for getting a rough idea of the experience. If every single rating for a professor is 1 out of 5 or you discover all of the reviews mention an impossible grading system, you probably don’t want to take that class.
I always used Rate My Professors when it came to my gen eds. What did I get out of it? I met some professors that I genuinely loved learning from because they made the class fun.
Choose Topics that Grab Your Attention
Even though they’re required courses, you get to choose which classes to take. There is still a lot of wiggle room when it comes to general education. Not a fan of geometry? Take a statistics class to fulfill your math requirement. Don’t want to take another American History 100 class? Consider a class in art history or an area of history that interests you.
The more engaged you are in the topic, the better you’ll do in class. It’s just easier when you like what you’re learning. Who knows, you might even decide to switch majors after taking. That’s why colleges recommend you don’t put off these courses. You might discover a new opportunity or passion in life...or discover your current major isn’t the path you wanted to take after all.
If you take these classes early on, there’s still plenty of time left to change your major or figure out what industry excites you.
Don’t Make it Too Hard on Yourself
Not a morning person? Think carefully before you sign up for that 8 am MWF class. Like I mentioned earlier, you should choose your classes based on what subject matter interests you. Not on the convenience, availability, or how easy you think it will be.
Some courses might fit better into your schedule, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good fit. If you think about it, each class costs you hundreds of dollars in tuition. Why take something that is a total bore and waste of your time?
In order to make the most of your general education, don’t take a class that will make you miserable. Or if you take the class and realize it’s not for you, drop it ASAP before the cutoff date.
Talk to Your Classmates
Your gen eds are a great place to meet people outside your major. Engage with your classmates!
You can find amazing new friends and create relationships with people. Once you get to your junior year of college, the rest of your classes will mostly be with the same group of people. General education courses can introduce you to cool friends you may not have met on campus otherwise.