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.