Frosh Edition

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Taking a bird course is smart, not lazy

Justin Dallaire | Contributor

In the summer of my first year at university, I spent hours at my computer desk mulling over my course options before finalizing my schedule. I had to figure out what kind of student I wanted to be: the serious or bird course type. I opted for the former.

Like so many other students, I failed to understand the value of taking the occasional bird course. I wanted, more than anything, to make the most of my university experience. I chose more challenging courses, more engaging professors, and as a result,often a larger workload. I accepted this,thinking that it  made me a good student.

It didn’t.

Bird courses are an integral part of university. Or at least, they should be. When used wisely, they can help students accomplish all their university goals.

For one thing, bird courses are useful academically. Beyond serving as simple GPA boosters, they allow students to put extra effort into the classes that truly matter to them. At some point or another, you will fall in love with a particular class or professor, and you’ll be thankful for opportunities to focus on what you’re truly passionate about.

Regardless of what your professors will tell you, part of university is learning when and how to cut corners. It has nothing to do with being lazy. Prioritizing your workload is not only helpful, but is essential to your survival in university. And taking the occasional bird course makes prioritizing your work that much easier.

On another note, bird courses allow you to take time to unwind and enjoy university life, which is essential to remaining healthy and sane. They offer a bit of breathing room in an otherwise chaotic cycle of assignments, mid-terms, and exams.

I am by no means advocating for you to Google “bird courses U of O” and register for every class you see listed on You would soon discover that this approach is untenable if you plan on graduating. This is university, after all. But ignoring the importance of bird courses entirely will soon leave you feeling tired and discouraged.

Even for students who have few or no electives, there’s always going to be a professor who’s an easy marker, or a class that covers material you’ve studied extensively in other classes. These are all, in their own way, bird courses. And they’re all worth taking at least once in university.

Back away from the bird courses

Tori Dudys | Contributor

As an only slightly dedicated student, I was always up for a bird course. Light workloads, jovial profs, and easy As were what I lived for. But looking back on my course choices, and which ones have made my post-university life easier, I’ve come to realize that bird courses haven’t been as wonderful as I thought.

So far, every course that’s been relevant to my life has been one that I took strictly out of interest. It’s no coincidence that these courses have also helped me impress employers, get some pretty great jobs, and discover new passions.

An introduction to advertis- ing course helped me walk into my current, full-time marketing position with no further educational background in the field. I signed up for the class because I read the description and felt like the readings and assignments were ones I would enjoy working on.

I took another class about

gender and sexuality in popular culture because I had been reading blog articles about the topic. Turns out I discovered a love for feminist writing I now use in my own blog-life.

Though neither of these classes were considered bird courses, I passed with flying colours. Why? Because my interest in the topics had me excited to attend and actively participate in my lectures. I also spent less time procrastinating, since I was genuinely interested in learning more about the course themes.

Since I’ve graduated from the University of Ottawa, classes I took be- cause of their easy reputation — such as literature and film and children’s literature—haven’t had much impact on my life, though at the time they were simple to understand and a breeze to conquer.

The classes that have really mattered were the ones I took because I loved what they were about. I also ended up doing as well in these classes as the ones I took because of their bird-like reputation.

It’s true that nothing easy is really worth doing in the long run. Follow your passions and you’re sure to not only excel in terms of grades, but you’ll come out of school with information that will help you later on.