Students should pick classes based on level of interest, not just ease

Illustration by Tennery Carttar

When I first came to college, I was sure that I wanted to study psychology. That is, until I got into a few higher-level classes and I realized that psychology, as a career, was just not for me. Where did this leave me? Luckily, I had already made some decisions that helped guide me to the right major — when it came to my general education classes, I went for those that sounded interesting, rather than easy, and that made all the difference.

During my second semester of college I took a literature course, and I absolutely loved it. While I was struggling with the decision to change my major I realized that my literature class was my favorite, and after a lot of deliberation I changed my major to English. Fast forward six years, and I’m now working on my master’s in the subject. Sometimes doing what you love can pay off.

Similarly, when it came time to fulfill my philosophy requirement, I decided that philosophy of feminism sounded far more interesting than just a general philosophy class. Was it harder? Yes. Did I get more out of it? Definitely.

It might sound corny, but the decision to take classes that I was interested in legitimately changed my life. Remember that interest and passion often go hand in hand, and it’s much easier to feel motivated during that mid-semester slump if you feel passionate about the subject that you are studying.

Sure, there are going to be some general education requirements that you have to fulfill that won’t sound even remotely interesting to you. But it’s much easier to survive a class that you find absolutely mind-numbing if you know that you’ll find your other classes engaging and intriguing.

Finding classes that are interesting to you, however, will take effort on your part. Keep in mind that your adviser has multiple students he or she is working with, and in many departments advisers are also professors. It is not their job to seek out classes that they feel you might enjoy, but if you come in with a list of classes, they will be happy to tell you if they fulfill the requirements that you need to reach.

If you’re unsure about your major but don’t want to get behind requirement-wise, remember that electives are needed too. I’m not saying that you should take every class that sparks your interest (if I had done that, I’d still be an undergraduate at the age of 25), but remember that college is about the pursuit of knowledge as well as the pursuit of a degree.

Even if I hadn’t eventually added a double major in women’s studies after taking philosophy of feminism, the class introduced me to a set of ideas and a way of seeing the world that was completely outside of anything I had ever experienced. By taking classes that sounded interesting, rather than easy, I developed the ability to question the world around me, an invaluable skill that helped with the personal growth we all hear about in college. Believe it or not, your classes can help with that, too, which makes trying out new subjects even more important.

Remember, at the end of the day, if you decide to change your major, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed but make sure that you really consider the decision. I’ve seen people successfully change their major from something as seemingly different as computer sciences to women’s studies, so no jump is too big, just make sure that you’re not changing your major on a whim.

K-State’s Academic Career and Information Center webpage has information on the majors offered at K-State, and most departments have course descriptions listed somewhere on their websites. There’s no reason to make these decisions blind, but it’s also not up to your adviser to make these decisions for you.

While the autonomy that college gives you may seem daunting, keep in mind that nobody knows your interests and passions like you do and that every major offers something unique. So enroll in classes that sound interesting, and don’t be afraid to try new things. In the long run, while the easiest classes might be better for your GPA, in my experience, it is the classes that I found compelling and engaging that were the most beneficial in the end.

Laura Thacker is a graduate student in English. Please send comments to