Reach Outside Your Academic Comfort Zone

emilymartin

I love that in college you get to take classes geared towards subjects you’re interested in, but you’ll still take some general education courses, which allow you to become well-rounded and overall impressive.

I’ve blogged about our liberal arts curriculum and the options it provides before. But I learned this past semester that it really is beneficial to take a class totally outside of your comfort zone — even one you think you won’t enjoy.

The fall semester of my senior year, I took a class called Poetry Workshop. I registered for this class strictly because it filled a requirement for my WRC major and none of the other classes that would fill it were being offered this year. I was expecting to dread that class every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon because I’ve never liked poetry. I’ve always found it confusing and cheesy. But I had no choice. So for the first time, I entered a class entirely focused on the requirement it will fill, with not interest in the subject.

Take it from me: Never approach a class with that attitude. It makes it hard to be motivated to work on your homework or participate in class. Find some way to get interested in the class, whether it’s the chance to boost your GPA, learn a new skill, or make a new friend.

Lucky for me, I had a fantastic professor who made our poetry class lots of fun. Maurice Manning is an English professor at Transy, but he’s also our “Writer in Residence,” and we’re lucky to have him as a member of our campus community. Click on his name to read about his background and accomplishments!

Professor Manning made me much more comfortable writing poetry because he has a gift for finding something great in every piece of writing. No matter how inadequate I thought my work was, he always complimented something about it. I began to feel more confident, causing me to put much more time and effort into my work because I was no longer resigned to thinking that it would necessarily be bad. I even started to enjoy sharing my work in class. After learning more about poetry and studying specific literary devices, all of a sudden, I felt like I knew what I was doing — kind of.

By the end of the semester, I was pretty impressed with myself. I had grown to not just appreciate poetry as an art form, but enjoy it, successfully interpret it, and even write poems of my own!

Looking back, I can’t believe I had such a bad attitude about this class because it turned out to be a lot of fun — and I figured out that a good stress reliever was writing a poem. It’s pretty awesome when working on your homework can relax you! And with the wide range of classes included in the liberal arts, there are all kinds of ways to make that happen.

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