It’s week two and you’re sitting in the back row of the lecture hall. The professor has been rambling for an hour about the syllabus (for the second time) and you find yourself preoccupied by the person sitting next to you. In a hushed tone they mention that this professor is a hard marker, and they even know someone who failed the class to prove it. You automatically turn to Rate My Professor for a second opinion. Mrs. So-and-so with the PhD has an overall rating of 1.5, someone writes, “worst teacher I ever had in my life.”
A friend messages you on Facebook to let you know they’ve switched into another class that’s offered at the same time, and you can’t help but ask yourself, “should I stay, or should I go?”
The words are more than just lyrics by The Clash. They ask a serious question about your academic life.
Luckily, you’re not alone. Many students look to sites like Rate My Professor to determine whether they should stay in the class, or if they should leave. But before you opt for the latter, you should consider why you took the class in the first place. If your answer is something along the lines of, “it fit into my schedule,” do not feel obligated to stay. Instead, pick up your things and ski-doodle on out of there before you become invested in assignments and readings that you are not interested in.
When I asked myself that same question, my answer was more personal; I want to learn more about the topic because I’m passionate about the content. AKA I probably won’t be bored when I’m reading the 36-page reading Mrs. So-and-so just assigned.
If you’re passionate, and eager to learn about a topic, then you’ll be more inclined to do the readings, and participate in class. Being able to form an opinion on the topic and contribute to the lecture will help you and your peers. Push yourself further by asking, what can I bring to the class?
As a journalism major, I can bring the perspective of someone working in the media. As a feminist, I can bring my opinions about gender roles in society. In a class about heterosexuality and homosexuality in social constructs, I know I will be able to dive into class discussions to contribute to my peers’ education, and better my own.
Sometimes, after you’ve decided to stay in the class, and even after you’ve applied yourself to the material, you may still finish the course by shedding a tear over your mark. Trust me, I know exactly what that’s like. Last semester I decided to take a French course. I (successfully) finished one in first year, and being bilingual means more job opportunities in this battlefield of a job market, so why not? Long story short, I bombed the exam — that’s why. Or is it?
I finally admitted to myself that I should probably take “bilingual” off of my resume (which I did) and I realized I don’t like learning new languages. I like the idea of it, but those are two very different things. If I want to reconnect myself with French in the future, maybe I’ll buy a pocket book. But until then, I’m glad that stress is out of my life. Taking the course, even though it didn’t help me on paper, helped me personally because I was able to learn something about myself. Isn’t that what school is all about? (WOW I sound like my mom there, but it’s true!)
Life isn’t all about 4.0s and taking the easy way out — even if you want to go to Graduate school. It’s about learning more about yourself and taking risks to do so.