College Blow Off Courses are a Myth (Mostly)

Ah, the college blow off course.  It’s the class that students register for because it’s easy.  Usually students register for a so-called blow off course because they have a difficult semester ahead, and they want to make sure there’s one easy course they can “blow off” while concentrating on the courses that are going to be making them miserable.

To some degree, this is a very smart strategy. If you have a lot of difficult classes, you absolutely should register for something that’s going to be less difficult.

blow off classUnfortunately, by choosing a class exclusively because you think it’s going to be a blow off class, you may be asking for trouble.  For one thing, few college classes are easy enough that you can truly blow them off and get a decent grade.  Yes, there are some– but trust me, this is unusual!

It’s so common for students to take a class that they mistakenly think is a blow off class, only to find that the class is way more work than they thought.  I learned this the hard way with a “math for non-majors” type of class I took sophomore year because I thought it would be easy.  It wasn’t, and I was lucky to get a C.

One common mistake students make when looking for a so-called blow off class is choosing a lower level class in a field that sounds like a blow off topic. “Intro to Poetry!” you might say. “How hard can that be?  That must be the perfect blow off class.”  Well, when you walk in the door and read the syllabus, and discover how many poems you have to read and write per week, you might change your mind.

Here’s a better strategy: if you have a tough schedule, concentrate on finding a class in an area you’re pretty good at.  If poetry is not your thing, then Intro to Poetry will not make your schedule any easier.  But if you like poetry and aced your high school English classes, the class might be a good break from your tough schedule–not because you plan to blow it off, but because you have the innate ability to do well without an excessive amount of work.  And another good strategy when you’re looking for an elective that’s not terribly difficult: ask around!  Your fellow students will tell you which profs and classes sound easy, but actually are not.

Of course, there really are some classes out there that are blow off classes.  If you really need a break, take a few of these–but only if you’re sure they’re really blow off classes.  And don’t take too many.  After all, you’re paying too much money for your education to just blow it off.

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