Should You Take Bird Courses in University?

Bird Courses

As you find yourself swamped during your university career with different obligations, ranging from your academic workload to your social and extracurricular activities, you may be tempted to seek out bird courses as a means of making your college life easier. Yet before you decide to pursue this strategy there are a few important points to consider.

What are Bird Courses?

The term “bird course” generally refers to courses that students choose to take in university because they are deemed easy to succeed in. While there may be multiple factors that determine whether a course is a bird course, the main criteria for bird courses are the subject matter being conceptually easy to grasp, the professor/instructor being an easy tester, and the promise of a high mark with minimal effort put in by the student.

Four Points to Consider When Choosing to Take Bird Courses in University

1. Does the Bird Course Suit Your Strengths as a Student?

Often times you will hear other students referring to a particular course that they took as being really easy or a bird course. Yet it is important to note what those particular students strengths are in relation to your own. A survey course on astronomy may be very basic for a science major, yet provide a fair degree of difficulty for students from other disciplines that are not familiar with the fundamentals of the study.

More over it is important to examine the testing method of the course to determine whether it is a “bird course” for someone with your academic skills. While some students are great at taking multiple choice exams, others are better at writing essay style evaluations.

An anecdotal example of why this point is important is my own experience in university with a so called “bird course” that my friends encouraged me to take about advertising and consumer culture. Conceptually this course was extremely easy and required little to no theoretical background. Yet the testing consisted of two multiple choice exams that made up the entire mark. Writing was by far my strong suit in undergrad, and I tended to avoid any course that did not test through written exams. Ultimately that “bird course” that I took ended up being by far the lowest mark that I ever received in university. And what was intended as a mark booster ended up being a 64% in a semester filled with low 80s and high 70s.

Although this may be somewhat of an extreme example, it should articulate the need to carefully asses your personal strengths to determine what types of courses you excel in. A final thought on this point is to also consider what courses you find engaging and intellectually stimulating. Personally I tended to perform better in courses where I was actually passionate about the subject matter. Thus my poor performance in the advertising class was also in part an affect of apathy towards the elementary subject matter.

2. Do You Value University as an Investment in Yourself?

This point is an important one for students who might end up making a habit of taking bird courses throughout university. Before you decide to follow this path it is very important to ask yourself why you are in school in the first place. When you strip away all of the societal pressures and imagined prestige that is associated with attaining a bachelor’s degree, you should keep in mind that university is intended to be a place of true higher learning. As such, you should view your four years in undergrad as a time to expand your horizons, grow intellectually, and foster a broader and more critical understanding of the world around you. If you adopt this mindset then you may realize that stacking your schedule with so called bird courses is simply a way of selling yourself short.

3. How do Bird Courses Reflect on Your Academic Record?

This point is meant as a warning to student who intend on frequently using bird courses as a means of artificially inflating their averages in hopes of being admitted to a demanding post-bachelor’s degree program. Admitting boards in graduate and professional schools tend to take a fairly holistic approach in selecting candidates and are generally smart enough to see right through this tactic. Thus an undergraduate student who achieved an A- or B+ average by working hard in all their core competencies, and taking challenging elective courses, is likely to edge out a student who achieved an A+ average by filling their transcript with courses such as “The Geography of Tourism” or “An Introduction to Popular Music”.

4. Can a Bird Course Provide You Needed Relief During a Tough Semester?

Despite the aforementioned points, there is something to be said about the need to turn to bird courses during semesters that are stacked with challenging classes. When four out five courses in your semester are difficult and time consuming, then it is perfectly reasonable to choose an elective that is relatively easy to get through as your fifth class. That being said, I still encourage you to consider what your particular strengths are, and to decide upon taking a course that you would enjoy and feel engaged with intellectually, rather that opting for a course that your friends describe as easy.

The Bottom Line of Bird Courses

Hopefully this article has swayed you to reconsider your approach regarding bird courses in University. The most important takeaway is to have a clear cut plan of what you want to achieve through your university education and elect your courses in accordance to that plan. By doing so, you will be able to make wiser choices and view the lure of bird courses in a different and more pragmatic light.

Christmas Graduation: Top 5 Reasons for Dropping Out in First Year

Dropping Out

The sight of a first year student dropping out of university is by no means a rare occurrence. Yet it is strongly advised that you resist any inclination to do so if you wish to live a life of little regret.

What is Christmas Graduation?

The term “Christmas graduation” is a colloquialism used to refer to the many students who end up dropping out of their university program during their first year of school. Thus it is implied that many of these students realize they are not cut out for university by the end of their first semester and therefore perform an honorary “Christmas graduation”, and drop out by December.

Top Five Reasons for Dropping out in First Year

1. Too Much Partying

Many students that head off to university for the first time experience a level of freedom that was previously denied to them growing up. Living away from home in a dorm pack with other students ready to have a good time can make it easy to get caught up in a hedonistic party lifestyle. Unfortunately many first year students haven not developed a proper sense of self discipline and are taken down by an inability to stop. As the first two semesters of university disappear in a haze of late night inebriation, school performance may drop down to a level so low that students are pushed out of their program, and lose the resolve to continue attending school.

2. Academic Difficulties

Its not much of a secret that university is considerably more challenging than high school, both conceptually and in terms of volume. Many students fail to realize this early on and assume that they can coast through their semesters much in the same way that they got through their grade twelve classes. Once final marks for courses come back, and the consequences of not putting in the proper amount of work become apparent, some students become so discouraged by their poor outcome, and prospective three year left in university, that they decide to call the quits.

3. Feelings of Social Isolation/Homesickness

For some students who are heading off to a distant college town for their four years of university, there might be an overwhelming feeling of homesickness that creeps in once they realize that they are separated from what they have grown up comfortable with. This can be exasperated by feelings of alienation with ones new surroundings and not clicking well with peers. Conversely, students who stay in their home town for university and commute to school, may feel a sense of isolation from communal life at school. In both cases it is important to understand that these feelings are common, and to seek out the many free counselling services that are covered by your tuition, and try to sort out your personal problems before giving up on school prematurely.

4. Too Much Attention Placed on Extracurriculars

There are always certain students out there that base their entire social lives on being as actively involved with extracurricular activities as possible. Since most universities feature a dearth of student organizations, as well as fraternities and sororities to rush in first year, there is a distinct danger for some students to overextend themselves in their new found campus life, much to the detriment of their course work. As in the aforementioned cases, any early academic failure caused by this can be disheartening and lead to a premature exit from school.

5. Financial/Personal Issues

The last major factors that can push students out of university are unresolved financial and personal issues. Going to university can be a huge stress on your family’s economic situation, and this can greatly compound issues that are taking place at home, such as the loss of a loved one or a crisis within your family. When to many external burdens are placed on your life outside of school, it may become extremely difficult to retain your focus and concentrate on your studies.

Don’t Give in and Drop Out

While there are certain cases when students really discover their passion and calling in life outside of university, and leave early to pursue their dreams, most cases of drop outs for the aforementioned reasons are typically riddled with regret. Giving up on attaining a university degree might mean that you will have to face significantly more barriers in life and be denied the right to work in many fields. Moreover, while there is always potential to get your act together and head back to school, the act of attending university can often be time sensitive. It is much easier to head to university as a late teen with few obligations and people depending on you, than as an adult who has to worry about a host of different factors. Most universities are more forgiving towards underachievement in first year, and it is strongly recommended that you re-evaluate your goals and push forward.