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For some, general education classes are an opportunity to try a bunch of different majors and see what feels like the best fit. For students who came into college knowing exactly what they wanted to major in, these courses can feel like a waste of money and time. In an effort to get back what you’re putting in, follow these tips to get the most back from your general education courses.


Pay attention

It’s easy to doze off in a large lecture hall while the professor drones on about cell division. This class isn’t related to your major; what’s the point of paying attention? It’s not like you’ll need this information later on. However, by not paying attention, you’re only hurting yourself. Not only do you need the taught information to do well on the homework and tests, having a wide breadth of knowledge makes you more a well-rounded student. Having a basic understanding of European history or biology makes you smarter and able to contribute to more conversations.


Select classes that sound interesting

While general education courses have to fit specific criteria, it’s not required that they be boring. Often, there’s a wide variety of classes that will meet a requirement. Find one that is centered around something you’d actually like to learn about. If you love history, make your required humanities course a history one. If you find the weather interesting, choose a meteorology or atmosphere course to fill your science requirement.


Learn something

General education requirements don’t exist just to torture students. The courses aim to provide students with a ride range of skills, like critical thinking, problem-solving, writing and communication. Though you might not retain all of the required course materials, try to retain some of those soft skills the class incorporated. Make it a goal to take away something from the course, even if it’s not the something the professor intended.


Talk to your classmates

General education classes are an excellent opportunity to meet students outside of your major. The courses are filled with a variety of students, from all majors and walks of life. Befriend some of them. Having a diverse friend group keeps you open to different worldviews and helps you to be less self-centered. Plus, they may be able to help you if you get stuck on homework for your shared class.