It is inevitable some time throughout your university career you will have to take courses outside of your comfort zone. There is a trend to create more well rounded students, so even math students likely have to take courses in social sciences or humanities. If you’re used to studying a certain way and cementing specific skills, taking a course far removed from your program may come as a shock. For me, this course was English. I have always preferred STEM and business courses such as accounting or economics. I typically have not done as well in courses, where there was not always a right or wrong answer. However, writing is an extremely important skill and I knew I had to improve in it despite despising the thought of taking an English class. Over the term I developed a few key skills that helped me succeed in a class I would have never expected to like or do well in.  

Understand how to change your study style

You cannot study the same way for a calculation based chemistry exam and a long answer history exam, it is as simple as that. As much as it may take time to plan out your new study plan, it is well worth it. Just because it is a subjective test does not mean you have to spend less time on it. Reaching out to friends in programs similar to the course you are taking is a great way to learn new study strategies. Professors are also a great resource, visit their office hours to try to get a better understanding of what they are looking for on the exam.

Don’t underestimate the class

Listen, just because you think you are a big shot engineer doesn’t mean you can pass art history without trying. Often elective classes you may think are easy end up being your lowest mark. Don’t skip your classes to study other subjects, you will need to study twice as hard to make up for all the lectures you missed. Students often spend too much time focusing on their core classes and not enough on their electives. You don’t have to become an expert in the subject matter, but you should become comfortable with the material. This is your opportunity to learn something you may have never thought you would, so make the most out of it. 

Don’t procrastinate

If you are like me, you will save all the assignments you dislike to last. When taking a course you dislike, this likely means all your assignments for that class will go to the bottom of the to-do list. This is not a good strategy since often you will have the least motivation for completing these assignments and they will take the longest time to complete. Set achievable goals for completing your least favourite coursework and reward yourself after completing these goals. Getting tough and uninteresting assignments out of the way takes a load off your back.

It is important to become a well rounded student. Only completing courses you are comfortable with will not diversify your skill set. Whether it is in school or on the job, you will have to use skills you are not used to or good at, so better to learn them earlier rather than later. It may be intimidating being so used to a certain type of testing and studying style and needing to quickly adapt. However, challenges like this will make you a more resilient student, as well as show future employers that you can adapt to change.  

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