The Bird Course: Urban Legend or Reality?

So, for some students it’s about time to choose courses for the second half of the year. With so many to choose from how does one decide on what to take? When I was picking my single elective for this semester back in August I had two things on my mind:

1)  Which course seems to be the most interesting and

2)  Is this going to be a bird course?

For those of you who do not know what I’m talking about when I say bird course, essentially, this is a course that requires little to no effort on your part to achieve a decent, passing grade. You just ‘fly’ on by. Birds fly. Therefore, bird course.

Thinking back to when I was choosing my course, I do not know why I was thinking I would encounter a true-blooded bird course. In my entire educational career I had never experienced one of these so-called bird courses. What made me think a college course would be any different? Once again, I blame television.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve taken easy courses but in the end they all require effort to get a good grade. Maybe that is because of my standards but unless you are happy with maybe just passing by a few per cent and risking complete failure in the class, you will put effort into any work for said class.

While looking at courses, it is hard to determine which will have a greater workload. For example, when choosing my elective I had narrowed it down to three choices: Personality Psychology, Theories of Beauty and Academic Writing and Critical Reasoning in Pop Culture. They all sounded interesting to me but I eventually decided on the writing course. The description told me I would be writing a blog. My first thought: bird course.

Like any course it began slow enough; however, I quickly learned that the content was not quite what I was expecting. I thought it would be very cut and dry in terms of material; however, a lot of abstract thought was required to keep up with many of the concepts my teacher was throwing at us. For some this would be okay but I prefer hard and fast facts when it comes to most classes. I was also achieving grades below my standard (that of the requirements for maintaining my scholarship) and did not understand why. This ‘bird’ course, if it ever was one, was taking a complete turn for the worse.

In the meantime, my friends were taking Personality Psychology, the class in which I was originally enrolled before I switched last minute. All I ever hear from them about the course work is maybe one case study where all of the information is given to you beforehand and a test every 4-5 weeks. Still not a bird course but a great deal more relaxed than my writing course where, we seemed to be learning strange new concepts and analyzing advertisements.

While I may sound like I am complaining about my choice to take this course, I am actually really happy with it. In terms of class discussion, it was exactly what I was expecting: Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, music videos, television etc. Just this past Wednesday I wrote an essay about Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ video. How many people can say that? I’ve also had the opportunity to write a blog about zombies ( which, while it was a little more work than I was expecting, is a great deal of fun to research and write.

Oh and do not worry, I found out why I was getting those low grades. It turns out when a teacher assigns you a MAXIMUM word limit of 200-250 words it really means that you can write as much as you only need to. My mistake for following guidelines, eh? (Just make sure to check with teachers about word limits before you go over. Not every teacher is the same.)

Anyway, I did not get my bird course but I have come out this experience richer for it. So, when choosing electives for next semester do not go hunting for that elusive bird course. You probably will not find it. Instead, choose something that sounds like fun. Take a course about film, an experimental chem course where you get to blow stuff up, or maybe astrophysics (if that’s your thing). Choose something that you will enjoy reading about or that you can use to appear more intelligent when around friends. Sociology or psych always seems to be good for that.

No matter what, do not expect to coast through your electives or the only flying you will find yourself doing is by the seat of your pants! Oh, snap! High five!

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