My 5 Least Favorite University Classes

I learned something new or interesting in every class I took during university. I had classes from a wide range of subjects, and I’ll admit to being the type of student who enjoyed diversified learning requirements.

But there are a couple classes I don’t think were worth my time or money. In hindsight I would have substituted them for something else, something more enjoyable or practical.

International Law

I took this class while I was studying abroad in Belgium in 2012. And I was really excited about it because I was under the impression, based on the course description, that we would talk about some of the international courts, the United Nations, and resolutions to global problems. Little did I know that my professor (who was a well respected lawyer in the courts of the European Union) only wanted to talk about his specialty: the law of the sea. I managed to spin my final research paper into a discussion about responsibility for environmental disasters in international waters, but it was a long four months talking about tuna and fishing rights and shipping lanes. I would have exchanged the class if I could, but it was already pre-approved by my home institution and I didn’t want to risk losing the credits by gambling on an unapproved class.

Physical Geology

Science has always been my worst subject, even more so than math which I’m not very skilled at either. So I took this class because it was pitched to me as “an easy credit to fill the science requirement.” Either my friends lied to me or the professor was distinctively awful for that section because his monotone voice made it impossible for me to stay engaged in any of the lectures. Plus, his tests were entirely multiple choice and filled with questions designed to have multiple right answers alongside one “best answer.” It’s saying something that the lab experiments were really what saved my grade in this class. It was absolutely awful and I would give it back in a heartbeat.

Women in Early Modern England

I have always loved the Tudor period and I’m a feminist, so I thought this would be a great addition to the courses for my history minor. My professor on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. She gave these long rambling lectures punctuated by fragments of quotes she dug up from the mountains of research books she asked us to read, half of which were never touched or suitable for testing material. She also sent us to the National Gallery on four separate occasions to look at Flemish paintings of everyday women (which were lovely, but not related to England) and to a performance at the Shakespeare theatre which required me to take a night off work and to pay for a ticket out of pocket. It was an ok show, but again, not particularly related to the coursework. A small part of me thinks she just didn’t want to go to the show alone so she conned her students into going with her. Needless to say, it wasn’t a good class at all. I convinced her to let me write a paper on Mary Tudor (a sequel of sorts to one I wrote on Henry VIII for another class the semester before), but it took some arm twisting since in her opinion noble women weren’t of as much interest as the layperson.

Scope and Methods in Political Science

The title of this class is basically a fancy way of saying surveys and data evaluation. When you’re in the social sciences, it’s important to learn the dangers of question bias and how to interpret the data you recover. So the fact that this class was required for my major wasn’t the issue. Rather, it was a combination of an overworked professor (she was the department head) and my own inability to understand the textbook. I could read the charts and graphs well enough, but the minutia of how to design the surveys and what each question style’s positives and negatives traits were left me baffled and bored. Nothing was easily distinguishable and though we studied how to make charts, we never actually wrote or conducted a survey. I struggled in this class and I really didn’t enjoy any of it which only made me hate it more.

Introduction to Logic

When you go to freshmen orientation and you ask the advice of older students what’s the easiest math class to take for a general curriculum requirement, remember to also play to your own strengths. I am a highly analytical person – I literally spend my entire work day piecing together bits of information – but when you sub out words for letters or numbers, I’m a complete jumble. To make it worse, this class was structured to be 70% proofs. Which require not only the ability to think through a process of steps, but to actually be able to see where you’re headed (aka. the solution) before you start the journey to get there. For example: If someone tells you that you have the number 1 and you have to figure out how you got to number 10, well, you first have to know that you’re going to ten, and then you have to decide which of the myriad routes you took to get there. Was it 1+9 or 1+1+8 or 1+2+3+5 or 1+5+4? I simply couldn’t do it no matter how many hours I studied and despite the fact that I went to literally every session of office hours the professor had for three months. I couldn’t dream up the answer to a problem without gathering more information along the way. So I just focused on passing, managed it, and then vowed never to go near the subject again.

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