Take notes. Memorize. Flashcard. Test. Repeat.
Classwork can sometimes feel like a chore. In fact, I think I’m safe in saying that all too many of us relate “school” with the stress of turning things in, getting things done on time, checking things off of lists and doing whatever we can to end up with a certain grade.
In fact, I think I’m also safe in saying that many of us are only in college in the first place because we need a degree just to be competitive in the already dingy, hopeless nightmare that is the American job market. Add onto that mentality a laundry list of required core classes that range everywhere from something you’re marginally interested in to things you’ll never come across again in your life, and a lot of your college experience can start to feel like it’s all centered around one goal: getting it all done and getting out.
As a senior who is just now experiencing her first-ever semester that is 100 percent free of core requirements and who has to maintain a minimum GPA to keep her all-too-essential scholarship, I have felt more than my share of end-goal-oriented learning.
But for everyone who finds themselves only motivated by grades, stuck under an avalanche of unengaging to-do lists or struggling to find any joy in getting that project done, I have a piece of advice: take a class for fun.
“But Anna, I don’t have time to add anything else to my schedule, how could I possibly fit anything else in between my honors classes and my resume-boosting extracurriculars?” Well, hear me out.
When your motivations for going to class every day are anything outside of the pure desire to learn, everything can start to feel like you’re being forced to do it, even if that’s not necessarily the case. Even classes you’re interested in can be harder to thrive in if you’ve picked up habits of thinking more about deadlines and grades than about mastering the material just because you want to.
Taking a class because you want to learn from it is completely different than taking a class because someone is making you do it, and I firmly believe everyone should experience the feeling of doing something purely for you.
Audit a class. Did you know that every full-time student is allowed one audit per semester? For free? Take advantage of it. The first time I switched a class to an audit, I actually learned more when I was just there to learn than I did when I was there to get the right information for the test. Now I try to have one every semester.
The Broene Counseling Center also offers a whopping 19 different workshop groups that range from dealing with trauma to learning how to relieve stress through meditation. They are safe, confidential and a good way to interact with your peers on a different level. I am proud to say that I am in one myself (because — did I mention — THEY’RE FREE?) and it is one of the absolute highlights of my week.
You don’t have to limit it to classes. Department seminars, student org events and independent studies can all give you the same experience. Just make sure you’re deliberate about pursuing it.
Once you know that feeling, and once your brain can find that pattern, it will start to spread to all of your other learning ventures, and it will make your college experience infinitely more rewarding.
Life is much too short to spend the money and time you’re investing here on something that’s not giving you joy. Don’t let school become a chore; make it an adventure.