Of Memes, Giggles, and Studying for Exams

With exams looming over us, honestly, sometimes you just need a good laugh.


In class on review day, things can get a little (or a lot) overwhelming.l.

And believe me, I love to laugh (and by laugh, I mean giggle awkwardly to myself on the bus while strangers give me sideways glances). I save every picture that tickles my funny bone and keep them for when I don’t have wifi and want to read something. This is just a dump of some of the best one’s I’ve saved, things that are very #relatable to our studying period right about now.

Now that the semester is ending, we’re all floating around with this mood:



It’s time to study! Trying to study for the test can be pretty difficult, especially when your bed has just been freshly made, and the blankets are warm, and you’ll just lie down for 5 more minutes…


When you try to study, it’s like you’re a graph trying to reach an asymptote: you keep trying to reach it, keep trying to approach the motivation, but it just…doesn’t…happen:28ac0118-efbe-4b56-9e00-d45167cfd798When you do study, you suddenly feel so productive and accomplished compared to what you were doing before:


Before you know it, it’s exam time! Admit it, we’ve all done this at least once during an exam (and I’ll embarrassingly admit I’ve done this too many times to count):


Finally, the exam is over! You run out of the exam room, feeling incredibly confident despite your strange study habits, but when you chat with your friends the dawning realization hits you:

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About a week later, you get your mark back! That feeling when you get a totally amazing mark on your test, and you just have to snap it to your friends:


And then when you finally see the results of multiple course marks and finish calculating your grade in every course, it’s an amazing feeling to see an improvement. But sometimes, there are two sides to the coin:


Here’s a bonus meme for giggles:


All joking aside: the exam period will be hard, but it will be worthwhile. Keep an open mind, take a breather, and don’t be afraid to laugh it off at the end. Good luck to all of you on your exams!



Here’s How to SAVE and MAKE Money (And Still Have Enough for a Splurge or Two)!

Needless to say, university can be really expensive.

With rocketing tuition costs, overpriced cafeteria food, hidden fees, and friends who constantly want to spend money on entertainment, it feels like we students are constantly being robbed of our last few pennies as we walk the halls of the school. While the OSAP debt and credit card bills are currently laying dormant (out of sight, out of mind), the little money we do have still feels like it’s being stretched.

I, just like you, am totally sick of spending more money than I can afford. So, how can we save up those few coins rusting in our wallets for more important things, like treating yourself after a long day?

Ways to SAVE Money:

  1. Buy a reusable mug and make tea/coffee at home
    • I do this all the time with plain green tea. You can get a box of 100 tea bags or a tub of instant coffee for about $3 at any grocery store, and of course boiling water is free. Boom! You save the $2 you spend every morning on coffee and tea!
  2. Use the hot water dispenser in the student center
    • Craving some extra tea or coffee in the middle of the day? Got a packet of ramen noodles lying around at home? The hot water dispenser is convenient, free, and a life saver!
  3. Make most of your lunches
    • It might take a bit of extra time out of your late night or early morning, but assuming you buy a $10 meal five times a week, it will save you about $200 per month!
  4. Bring lots of snacks
    • Fruit is ideal, but granola bars, cookies, extra lunches, and other food works.
    • This will prevent you from getting hungry in the middle of the day and spending $3-$10 on fries, rice, sandwiches, salad, and all the other completely overpriced snack. Can you believe they sell a cup of fruit for $5?
  5. Use the student center printer
    • Library printer: 10 cents per page.
    • Student center printer: 5 cents per page.
    • It makes a big difference, especially when you only have a few coins in your wallet and have a huge report to print!
  6. Use the Blind Duck convenience store
    • They sell toiletries, drinks, freezies, and ice cream for a really good price!
  7. Buy lunch at a grocery store instead of on campus
    • My bus stops at Metro before I board a second one, so I have time to grab a much cheaper lunch (they actually sell the same sushi in IB for $1-$3 less!)
    • If you encounter a grocery store on the way to school, you’ll find bigger meals for a bargain price
  8. Shop bargain
    • Yes, this means the clearance section. Search for those red tags on items and clothing. You’re not cheap, you’re smart! *taps head*
    • Price matching is a thing, and Walmart does it the best
    • Download FLIPP, the price matching app, for WAY cheaper grocery shopping!
  9. Buy alternatives
    • Examples:
      • Don’t buy textbooks from the bookstore; use Facebook’s Buy and Sell group
      • Don’t buy a matcha green tea latte from Starbucks; buy it from Second Cup, it’s a few dollars cheaper
      • Don’t buy fancy notebooks from Staples for all of your classes; get the 50 cent ones from Walmart
  10. Shop at the Asian super markets
    • Cool things you can get to fulfill your Asian food cravings:
      • Roasted seaweed
      • Miso soup packets (why spend $2.10 at IB when you can spend $2 on an entire packet and use the hot water dispenser?)
      • Tapioca and bubble tea mixes ($5.60 for a single cup at Chatime, or $10 for multiple cups at home? Your decision)
      • Steamed buns (red bean, pork, vegetable, etc)
  11. Get a refurbished laptop instead of a new one
    • If you’re like me and only need a laptop for Word, Excel, and anime, then why bother getting a $900 laptop when you can get a $300 laptop?
    • I got my Lenovo ThinkPad for almost $350 on Amazon, and it’s strong and durable and still alive today!

Ways to MAKE Money:

  1. Sell or commission art
    • Tumblr is the perfect medium for this!
    • People commission their art for as little as $5 and as much as $50 a piece
  2. Fix computers
    • My brother did this throughout high school and to present day and has made thousands that have all gone to savings
    • He was able to pay off his OSAP loan in about 2 years!
  3. Tutor
  4. Get a part time/on campus job
  5. Run an Etsy
    • If you love crafting, this one’s for you!
  6. In general, if you have a marketable talent and time…freelance!

Things you SHOULD spend on:

  1. Pens
    • Smooth note taking during a lecture can make even the dullest lectures bearable!
    • An inky black pen, preferably from Mooji in Square One, is the most therapeutic thing in the world.
  2. Backpack
    • If you’re going to be walking from Davis to IB with 2 textbooks, your bulky headphones, a giant pencil case, and your laptop, your backpack had better hold!
    • Your back health is important, so invest in a good quality backpack that won’t dig into your shoulders or scratch against your back.
  3. Headphones
    • This is specifically for people who commute or spend a lot of time alone on campus. You’re going to be listening to a lot of podcasts, episodes, and music, and a good pair of headphones can make any alone time enjoyable.
    • I bought a pair of wireless red headphones from an online company called “Bluedio” for $30 no tax. Good quality, good price!
  4. Jacket
    • Winter can hit Canada at any time, and will last basically all of the university year. Make sure the coat you buy is warm, cozy, and strong.
    • It may seem like an expensive purchase when you drop $200 on a new coat, but it’s definitely an item worth investing in.
  5. Shoes/Boots
    • Same reason as above for boots. Winters are harsh, don’t let your precious feet experience the cold and slush.
    • You’re always going to be running from one end of the campus to the other, so purchasing a pair of good quality shoes is recommended. Protect your paws, show them some love.
  6. Gloves
    • Same reason for boots and coats. Frostbite really sucks.
  7. Treats
    • Here’s the one case I say you’re definitely allowed to splurge once in a while.
    • If you save up enough money, buying yourself small treats occasionally is enough to make the day a lot better.
    • It’s like investing in your mental health and acts as a de-stressor.

When it comes to finances in general, the moral? Managing money is an important skill that everyone should begin to develop and nurture as early as possible in university.

Using these tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming a money management star!

The Best Treats at UTM: What To Buy?

If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s been a not-so-mysterious reoccurring theme in my blogs. The theme in question?


I talk a lot about the importance of treating yourself. Whether that treat is after a bad test, a good studying session, or a fight with a friend, treats help you celebrate your achievements and comfort you when you’re feeling down.

Here’s a list of things I like to treat myself to, which vary depending on the situation:

Steeped Tea.

This I always treat myself to on long days, almost always my Tuesday (which is from 8AM to 6PM, a whopping 10 hours of school). As I’ve mentioned before, I get strange pressure headaches (which are actually migraines) when I’m at school too long. The steeped tea always helps alleviate a lot of the head pain almost immediately.

Not only that, but it’s creamy, delicious, and a simple delight!

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If you win something, that’ll make your day even better!

How I take it: medium steeped tea with two cream and one milk.
Price: $1.60.
Location: Davis Tims, Davis Self-Serve Tims in the TFC, or Self-Serve Tims by CC1080

Bubble Tea.

This is always great for victories and celebrations. If I’ve won a debate (as I’m part of the debate league), I’ll sometimes mosey over to Chatime and grab a drink. If I’ve had a long two weeks of lab reports, tests, quizzes, and assignments, I’ll waltz in at the end of a Friday and order a sweet treat.

It’s also great for when you’re feeling incredibly stressed or overwhelmed. The sweet creaminess is enough to soothe a troubled soul. Stay away if you’re feeling sick or tired, though; the milk and sugar combination can usually cause a stomachache and make a sick day even worse.

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Such a selection of flavours!

How I take it:
I’ll usually order one of the following (all with tapioca and all regular because I can never finish a large, it makes me feel too sick after drinking too much):
Matcha red bean smoothie without red bean (my favourite!)
Taro milk tea (a classic!)
Roasted milk tea (the original bubble tea, with a roasted touch!)
Honeydew milk tea (a refreshing flavour!)
Price: Usually around $5.60 (including tax).
Location: Student Center

Miso Soup

This is for when I’m cold, craving salt, feeling stressed, and just need a little bit of hot soup to warm my tummy and make me feel cozy inside. On my most stressful day, when I legitimately cried because I had too much going on and a single comment from my TA threw off my day (it was strange because I hadn’t cried in months), the miso soup was there for me like a warm hug.

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Can’t you already feel your soul breathe a sigh of relief?

How I take it: …it’s just miso soup, it all comes in the same size.
Price: $2.10
Location: IB


Sometimes, you just want a little something nice, sweet, and buttery with your coffee, green tea, or other drink in the morning. This is especially if you’ve skipped out on breakfast and find your stomach grumbling before you can even begin your first class. My favourite thing to get at a time like this? A scone. Not just any scone, but a delicious, totally-not-nutritious blueberry scone from Second Cup. 

Soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and with just the right amount of sugar and butter to make it melt in your mouth without being too sweet, their scones are the perfect thing to make your day a little nicer and your stomach a little happier if you’ve forgotten to eat breakfast.

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I fell in love the moment I laid my unworthy eyes on this dense ball of blueberry, butter, and sugar.

How I take it: just ask for a blueberry scone.
Price: $2.35 per scone (without tax)
Location: Second Cup (IB or Kaneff)

These are just some of the delicious things I like to treat myself to. What are your favourite treats?



One Thing You Shouldn’t Do on Your Commute.

Commutes can get pretty dull. Ranging anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours, there’s a lot of time to kill at the beginning and end of your day. Then, what do you fill this time with? Here are a few ideas from a fellow commuter.



In my humble opinion, here’s what you shouldn’t do on your commute:


Yes, yes, I’m aware it’s a very unpopular opinion (after all, shouldn’t you be using your break to organize your day and catch up on readings?) but this is honest advice I believe people should heed.

Put it into perspective: you’re doing work all of the time.

That lunch break you have? You’re planning to do your physics assignment while eating.
That two hour gap after sociology? You’re planning on studying for your psychology test.
Those ten minutes before your math class starts? You’re going to flip through your biology notes for a quick refresher.

Then…when will you give yourself a mental break?

See, commute time is a time when you can zone out with absolutely no consequence. There isn’t a teacher or a TA or a group member breathing down your neck, waiting for your assignment. The rest of your work can happen when you get home. Commute time is like limbo: you’re suspended in time, waiting until you can either get home or go to school. It blissful, it’s relaxing, it’s wonderful.

On a bus, the only thing on your to-do list should be to let your mind drift and clear your thoughts. A rested mind will accept information readily, while a prepared but stressed mind will reject more information.

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I use the very strange analogy of a trash can. Over the course of a few days, the garbage can in the kitchen can get REALLY full, but everyone in the household is too lazy to empty it out. You know it’s overflowing but you’re not ready to empty it, so the next time you need to throw something away you futilely shove it in the garbage in an attempt to make room. You keep doing this until you realize that the bottom of the bag has actually ripped and the garbage is coming out. This could have been avoided had you taken out the trash.

Same with knowledge. Over the course of a few days, your brain is filled with information, thoughts, and daydreams that haven’t been processed. You keep trying to shove in more information, which works until you realize you’re starting to forget more important things.

Your daily commute is the perfect time to “take out the trash” and process your thoughts to keep you refreshed throughout the week.


  1. Listen to music

    This one’s a pretty obvious one. Download your favourite tracks the night before so you don’t eat up data during the commute, and make sure to invest in a good pair of headphones. I recently bought wireless headphones for $30 online with free shipping, they’ve really made my commute better!

  2. Sleep

    They should really make 8AM classes illegal since it means I have to wake up at 5:40AM to take a 6:40AM bus (no one should have to wake up this early!). Thank goodness the seats are cushy enough to support my falling-asleep-on-the-bus habits. Bonus if you bring a mini blanket with you!

    (No joke, I’ve literally brought blankets with me to school before. Absolutely no regrets, and you’ll be the coziest one in class!).

    Image result for person wrapped in blanket meme

    Cozy over cold, right?

  3. Read

    I know, I know, it’s not like you don’t have enough reading to do already, eh? But there’s a huge difference between recreational reading and academic reading; the former is WAY more fun and interesting than the latter and can even be refreshing.

    Mosey over to the library and sign out your favourite genre of book or manga, it’ll be great to bury yourself into a good plot and great character development again!

  4. Audio books

    I’ve never tried this, but I’ve been told by many people that it’s an amazing and relaxing thing to do. So, there you have it!

  5. Stare out the window and contemplate the mysteries of the universe

    Where else do deep, philosophical, mind-blowing ideas come from? Contemplation breeds contentedness and nourishes the soul.

    Image result for person looking out bus window

    “Is it considered guacamole if you just add salt and pepper?”

  6. Have an existential crisis

    As defined by good-ol’ Google:

    “An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether this life has any meaning, purpose, or value.”

    What better time to do this than your daily commute? The occasional existential crisis does help you become a lot more self-aware, and helps you in your growth during university.

    (Of course, I mean this jokingly).

So, lay back, pick your favourite song, and close your eyes for a bit during your next commute. Your mind and body will thank you!

Got any other commuter tips or advice? Leave a comment below!

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How UTM’s Nature Trail Improved My Uni Experience

University has been great so far.

With good friends, a great campus, flexible schedules, cool assignments, and interesting opportunities. It’s everything the brochure said it would be…but


These are the things that keep me up at 2AM in the morning apparently (from owlturd.com)

…recently, I’ve been feeling like something is missing from my university experience. Sure, I’ve tried joining clubs and I’ve made some new friends. I joined the program LAUNCH last semester to help ease my transition into university, which was interesting. I’ve tried not to limit my time to just studying, and am trying to incorporate some of my hobbies into my day. Even so, as I go about my regular routine, there’s something nagging at me. There’s something missing…

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It was only a few days ago in a conversation with my twin sister that I finally figured out what it could be.

I feel like this creeping feeling is the slow realization that I’m not using my university experience properly, where is my change? Everything is the same: I hop on the bus for an hour long commute, I go to school, I go home, I study, I sleep, and the cycle continues-nothing new.

Why does everything feel the same? Will it be this way forever? Mindless routines? Two lab reports a week, a pre-lab quiz every Friday, a club meeting on Monday, routine after routine after routine?

The answer: I needed a change. And fast.

Like many things, I have the ability to control and change this. I don’t have to be in this limbo forever. So, with an open mind, my sister and I went to try out the on-campus nature trail by IB in the fall, the one I kept hearing stories about from my LAUNCH leader.

At first, while I tried to keep an open mind, I couldn’t help but have expectations. I mean, it’s an on-campus nature trail available to everyone. I had no doubt it would be interesting and new, I just didn’t think its appearance would surprise me very much. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just a forest. Right?

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When we reached the beginning of the trail, I was excited to see a sign that said “THIS PATH IS NOT MAINTAINED”. Oh! That could mean a lot of things, but what it screamed to me was “THIS IS AS NATURAL AS IT GETS”, which was one thing that pleasantly surprised me: I love the unbeaten path.

The first few steps in, I brushed past long branches and picked at leaves that stuck to my clothes. The entrance was narrow, and I was already feeling a thrill. This was new, this was different.

We turned the corner, and I couldn’t control the quiet little gasp that left my mouth.

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Now, I know the concept of autumn. Leaves change colour. Leaves fall. Leaves get smushed on the ground. Sure, I know it’s supposed to be really pretty in the country, but since I live in the suburbs, I’ve never really experienced the so-called “colourful wonderland” that the movies say it should be, especially in Canada.

Nothing prepared me for what I saw:


It was like something straight out of a fairytale. The first thing that hit me was how bright everything was: the leaves, the colours, the moss, the tree trunks, the sky. The light shone through the leaves and made it seem as though the tips of the branches were on fire, as they were a bright yellow-orange. Sunlight changed dramatically; one minute, you felt like you were walking through a magical fairy world, the next minute you were trudging through a darker, more somber walkway.

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It was like something straight out of Final Fantasy VII’s Advent Children

It was a mystery I never knew existed, the change in pace I needed.

Needless to say, I enjoyed that walk very much.

Now, whenever I’m feeling a little wistful or when I’ve got a bit of extra time, I’ll grab a friend and head over to the trail that captivated my on first glance. It’s a refreshing escape from the perils of university life for a number of reasons:

  • It helps you reconnect with nature
  • It helps you reconnect with your spirituality, like a form of meditation
  • It gives you a breather from school work
  • It provides you with some exercise (you know, the kind you’ve been neglecting for the month because assignments keep piling up and there’s no time to go to the gym)
  • It rests your eyes (greenery and the colour green are therapeutic for your eyes!)

Here are the rest of the pictures. It was a great experience for me, and I highly recommend you all check it out when the weather gets warmer!

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“I’m spending too much!” Apparently, not.

“Should I get a steeped tea at Tim’s? Maybe a latte at Second Cup? Oh, but Starbucks has their new drinks out, too, and Chatime just opened up! What to buy?”

A tiny voice at the back of my head: “How about nothing? You’ve already spent too much.”

And thus is the plight of all students with a handy-dandy debit card.

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It’s nice to treat yourself sometimes. I live by the philosophy that you should always treat yourself after a really bad day, or after submitting a large project, or after getting a good mark on your midterm. Appropriate times. Not too much, though, so you still get the joy from the “treat”.

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Oh Tim’s steeped tea, you mean the world to me.

BIG PROBLEM: I always feel like I’m spending too much.

I’ve been in tough financial situations when I was younger, and still currently am. The tight spending of the family budget and the rare luxuries we got, taught me the importance of saving and I still carry this mindset to this day. I monitor my finances all the time and still consider any item of clothing above $20 tremendously expensive. I have the Flipp price-match app on my phone, head to the store’s clearance section first, and make sure not to buy more than two drinks (coffee, tea, smoothie, etc) a week.

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I always thought this behaviour was reasonable and normal. Apparently, according to family and friends, it’s not.

Whether you’re in a financial situation or not, most students are divided between two mindsets: the “I spend too little” and the “I spend too much”.

The “I spend too little” crew usually owns a credit card and loves to treat their friends. They’re not exactly sure of how much they’re spending but they know it’s probably below their monthly limit, so they tend to splurge a lot. These students might treat themselves too much.

The “I spend too much” crew usually owns a debit card and is the cheapest person in the group. They keep tight track of their spending, like glancing at their account after purchasing a coffee, and tend to withdraw from buying things they actually need. These students might treat themselves too little.

Before school started, I was complaining to my brother about all of the things I would have to buy: new clothes (I came from a uniform school and hadn’t updated my wardrobe in four years), a laptop, textbooks, and school supplies being some of the many things on my list. He promptly asked me how much would be left in my debit card when I was done, and when I responded, he looked at me sideways and said:

“Are you kidding me? You have money. You need these things. Why are you so worried about spending?”

Then he laughs and says,

“You honestly need to spend MORE.”

And to be honest, I’d never thought of it that way. Isn’t it weird to tell someone to keep spending? Don’t you normally tell people to stop spending? Is that weird?

Apparently it was, because my mom and a few of my friends gave me the same answer. It was only until he told me this that I realized something:

I was the “I spend too much”.

Not the “reasonable spender”. Not the “adult who has their finances down to a point”. Not the “role-model budget-er”. Because of my previous experience with low finances in my family, I was conditioned to believe spending any money at all was bad, and this made me — to be frank — the cheapest person in the group. It also made me stop myself from buying things I needed, and made me feel like I was in a much worse financial position than I actually was.

I’m blessed enough to have a debit card, two jobs that pay well, a paid-off tuition, and low-burden financial payments. I know many people aren’t lucky enough to be in this position and struggle to make ends meet. I know now that I’m in a better position than I think I am.

Slowly, I’m learning to spend money on things I need and the occasional luxuries. I’ve been trying to adopt the modest “why not?” mindset that will make my university experience a little more comfortable.

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Eyeing that chocolate bar? Eh, why not?

So the next time you leave class craving a Sparkling Green Tea Lemonade from Second Cup or a Taro Milk Bubble Tea from Chatime, and you know you’ve been working hard or have had a bad day, whip out your wallet and spend a little. My rule of thumb is no more than once or twice a week!

It’s the sweet little things that make the world a little nicer. Indulge and enjoy.



“Is _____ a Bird Course?” Part 3: How to Pick the Right Course

In the previous article, we discussed the potential harms of labeling something as a bird course. Now that I’ve scared you all away from any course that sounds remotely easy, I am going to provide you with the answer to the next burning question in your mind:

“How do I pick the right course?”

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Remember: despite all of the ranting, it is important to make sure you’re not burdening yourself with too many courses. I struggled with this a lot and am suffering from the million assignments I constantly have to do, but thanks to my fifth lighter credit, it isn’t as bad as it could be. There needs to be a balance.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing any course at all is RESEARCH AND EVALUATION. What’s it about? How many credits? What is the average usually like? Does it look like something you’re interested in? Is the course load going to benefit you, or work against you?

For example, let’s say you’re taking three sciences. An assignment heavy course such as education studies may look easy, but it won’t compliment your three lab reports well. In this case, it would be best to go with a course that is lecture-only.

What if you have lots of tests and quizzes, but not a lot of work during the week? Taking something like sociology might make your life a little more stressful since you’ll have lots of tests and readings to do. You might want to give yourself a few projects to work on by taking an assignment-only course, which frees your study time up for studying the lectures that matter.

It’s also beneficial to consider the credit/no credit option UTM offers. Simply put, if it’s a distribution requirement only (as in, you don’t need it for your program), you can give it a credit/no credit which means you only need to pass the course to fulfill it, and it doesn’t add up to your cGPA. That way, you can focus your energy on courses you need to enter your program.

Check out the link for more info: http://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/current/forms-services/crncr

TLDR? Quick Guidelines

Debating about a course? Here’s how to make the most informed decision:

  1. Have I fulfilled all of my main program requirements?
    • YES: Give it a try!
    • NO: Rethink it.
  2. Do I need it to fulfill a distribution requirement?
    • YES: Give it a try!
    • NO: Rethink it.
  3. Am I interested/passionate in this course?
    • YES: Give it a try!
    • NO: Rethink it.
  4. Will this course lower my burden/make my university experience more comfortable?
    • YES: Give it a try!
    • NO: Rethink it.
  5. Will it benefit me in any way? (Skills, perspectives, opinions, etc)?
    • YES: Give it a try!
    • NO: Rethink it.

The more YES you answered, the better!

Making an informed choice is difficult, but with the right guidance you’ll be able to pick the right course for you. “Bird courses” don’t have to be harmful; they can prove to be a wonderful asset, if you choose them the right way.

But perhaps the most important lesson from this entire article, if anything, comes in the form of the following reminder:


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