a picture of pets, the best domesticated animals around

Pets are the best example of domesticated animals and one of the most adorable topics of the seminar.

Every semester, I’m required by my honors program to take a one hour seminar. This semester, by a combination of late registration times and a small array of interesting seminars, I ended up in a seminar on animal domestication. Now, I am not the slightest bit interested in animal domestication. I have nothing against biology (in fact, I prefer it to physics), but this very specific topic— domestication of animals— is not intriguing to me. I only signed up for the seminar because I had no choice; it was the only open seminar that fit my schedule. And everyone knows that going to a class that you don’t even want to be in is pretty difficult, and staying awake in said class is not any easier. I’ve found that a few things have helped make the class more bearable:

1. Find things I like about the class.

It’s a lot easier to go to class if you can find reasons that you want to go. Maybe the material isn’t all that interesting, but there’s still a potential to learn things that I don’t already know and wouldn’t learn otherwise. That means this class is a unique opportunity that I should take advantage of. After all, I'm sure that there will be at least one thing that I'll learn that will be interesting and that I couldn't have learned on my own without the resources from the class. Also, the professor is also a very engaging lecturer and a very interesting person, so it’s not as hard to pay attention as it could be. Maybe I don't care much for what I'm learning in the class, but I can at least respect the energy that the professor brings to class each day. It's always better to take classes from professors that love their subject and love what they're teaching, and in the case of this seminar, I can tell that the professor is very interested and knowledgeable when it comes to animal domestication, so lectures are dynamic, and I appreciate that.

2. Stay engaged during class.

I don’t want to get on the professor’s bad side or openly disrespect them by falling asleep in class, so I still want to stay engaged. It’s hard to stay engaged when the material isn’t interesting or applicable to my classwork, though, so it helps me to take notes. Even though I probably won’t need these notes for anything, the act of writing notes down helps me stay awake and engaged. And who knows? Maybe I'll need this knowledge on animal domestication later, and these notes will come in handy. I'm an active notetaker, too, so I like drawing diagrams and starring points that are interesting to me. It keeps my hands busy with productive doodling and occupies my mind just enough to keep me awake. Another strategy for staying engaged is to ask questions as the professor is lecturing. If you make it a goal to come up with one question every five minutes or so, then you'll have no choice but to pay attention and stay awake.

3. Make friends in the class.

Everything is more enjoyable when you have friends to complain to. Having friends in the class motivates me to go to class because it's almost like they're holding me accountable for showing up just by being in the class. Of course, the added bonus of friendship is that if you miss a class, you can ask your friend to take notes for you, and your friend can wake you up if you nod off during class. I know some people who alternate class days with their friends and have a designated notetaker for each class day so that they don't all have to come to class. Personally, I don't recommend that strategy unless the class is absolutely boring (and in my case, attendance is mandatory, so it wouldn't work anyway), but if that's what suits you, go for it, I guess.

4. Decide how much work I need to put in.

The seminar that I'm in is a pass/fail class; if I participate and do the work, I'm guaranteed to pass, regardless of how little I understand the material by the time the class is over. Knowing that, this class is much less stressful. In fact, it's not stressful at all. All I have to do is show up every day, do the least amount of work possible while still looking engaged, and I can pass the course. It's actually kind of nice to have a class in my schedule that doesn't require me to put in full effort-- it's a much-needed break in my stressful week. Of course, there are times when I'm in classes that I don't care about but I still have to put in a lot of effort to succeed. In those cases, I can still evaluate just how much time and effort I absolutely have to put in to do well enough in the course. I'm not a fan of using my time to do homework that doesn't interest me, so when a course doesn't interest me, I'm willing to get a lower grade if it means I can spend more time doing the things I care about.

Hopefully, your schedule only has one or two classes that you really just don't find interesting. With these tips, you should be able to make it through the semester without hating every moment you spend in those classes. I, for one, am going to take this opportunity to relax on the days that I have my seminar and learn something new about animal domestication without worrying about how much I remember. If I go through the whole class and learn nothing, that's okay, too. This class may not be the most interesting or the most applicable, but even if I don't care about it, I can still use the course as an opportunity to take a break without too many consequences-- and it's nice to be able to take a break every once in a while.

Comments

Hi Mayuri, I like to read your blogs. What honors program are you enrolled in?Thanks
I’m part of Turing Scholars, which is the computer science honors program, and Polymathic Scholars, which is a CNS honors program that’s all about interdisciplinary fields of study. This particular seminar was a requirement for Polymathic Scholars.

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