Camille Feinstein

Camille is a Content Strategist with TutorTree.

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Taking Classes Outside of Your Major

How do you go from mind-numbing, to maybe this is interesting?
Staying  focused on a topic that doesn’t interest you can feel nearly impossible. Believe me, I’ve been there more than I’d like to admit.

Flashback…

Through high school, I felt trapped by courses that did not interest me in the slightest. I was stubbornly close-minded when it came to learning skills that seemed irrelevant to my future. I knew I wanted to work in a creative field. So why should I spend countless hours stressing over the fact that I could hardly understand basic math? I was constantly worried that my performance in classes like algebra and statistics would distract from my hard work and efforts elsewhere.

Best four years of my life, here I come!

As I got ready for my transition to the University of Oregon, one thing got me excited more than anything— the freedom to choose what I got to learn. Finally!  All the long hours spent studying would align with my aspirations. My studies were connected to myself and my dreams, not the education system. Well, as we all know, dreams don’t always align with reality.

Sike.

In the early moments of my freshman orientation, reality set in that I would not be dodging unwanted courses like I had imagined. Prerequisites filled with math and science requirements… yeah, there was no avoiding anything if I wanted to graduate. As an incoming Journalism major, I faced two options— earn a Bachelor of Science degree and take three terms of math, or a Bachelor of Arts through two years of studying a language.

Naturally, avoiding math at all costs, I chose to study Italian. The way I saw it, ANYTHING was better than math. The idea of taking an entirely foreign language felt less intimidating than reliving failures of the past.


Let that sink in for a moment.  I was more willing to learn a new language than to take math classes.  

Logical? Couldn’t be me.

How is this in any way logical: math does not apply to a Journalism degree but Italian does? Sometimes we will go to great lengths to avoid facing our fears, you know? Here, I began to realize that the truth behind fears of certain subjects were not because they were irrelevant, that was just my excuse. I simply struggled to put the pieces together and learn exactly how one subject could possibly bridge between another. I became more open-minded to the actuality that all subjects are in fact connected in some shape or form.

Things started to feel different...

Turns out, another requirement for my major was to take two terms of economics… a subject that would have sent my anxiety through the roof had I been asked to take it a few years prior. But this time as I prepared to take the course, something felt different. I was actually excited to take on something far from my interests, and see how it may work with what I already knew.  I was open to getting help from a Tutor, a classmate, and Professors too.

After taking these courses with a new, unbiased mindset, it showed a huge impact on my overall ability to learn. I was no longer afraid to take on the roles that scared me, and I was done making excuses for not knowing “enough” to do something.

The bottom line.

The truth is, there’s no shame in asking for help with your studies. This is key to excelling in not only your studies, but in life—the understanding that although something may seem irrelevant, it is alternatively just a new perspective to what you may already know.

Following four years of college-level education, I can proudly recognize the importance of going beyond your major, and exploring how/where your studies may live outside of its categorized box. Whether it’s math, writing, biology, or even computer science, I can promise you will discover ways to apply each to the other with the right mindset.

And if there’s ever a time you’re feeling stuck or discouraged,  TutorTree is always here to help.