Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor
By Kayla Freeman, Contributor
University is hard, no doubt about it. With the constant stress that many students face, it is easy to see why they may look for easier and less strenuous classes when possible. This is where “bird courses” come into play. The idea surrounding these types of subjects is that one can fly through the course with little to no effort to achieve relatively high marks, such as an 11 or 12.
In reality, bird courses do not exist. Being successful in a course is largely dependent on the skills of individual students, their timetable, their motivation or their effort. To be fair, the harshness of a teaching assistant’s grading or a professor’s teaching style are among other contributing factors that can affect your mark. However, these issues are generally consistent across all courses.
Being successful in a course is largely dependent on the skills of individual students, their timetable, their motivation or their effort.
Courses in certain faculties have become associated with easier courses or workloads. Faculties such as humanities and social sciences are often the faculties that are considered to have a greater proportion of “bird courses” including courses such as microeconomics or medical terminology. This brings a negative attitude towards students and staff in certain faculties or programs. For example, students that are in a class for personal interest may feel that their efforts are worth less if they are investing time and effort into a course with a bird reputation. In a society centred around those in the fields of science and engineering, faculties such as the humanities and social sciences are often belittled and have their legitimacy second-guessed.
Faculties such as humanities and social sciences are often the faculties that are considered to have a greater proportion of “bird courses” including courses such as microeconomics or medical terminology.
Being a part of the social science faculty, I can tell you about the effects that the perception surrounding bird courses or even “bird programs” have on other students. For example, many current students in social science transferred into the program after their first year, which is perceived by some as a step-down from programs in science or engineering. This is disheartening for people that worked hard to get to where they are, who are enjoying their courses, and/or who continue to strive to maintain a high GPA in their program. It almost creates this hierarchy among different faculties, giving other students the idea that social science courses are not as worthy or respectable compared to others.
Some students choose to take bird courses only because they have heard that it will be easy. What they may have failed to consider is that if these courses are from a different faculty, they will likely be taught in a completely different manner than what students are used to. This, along with a disinterest in course material may result in poor performance. For these reasons, bird courses typically have low class participation and general class morale. There is no inherent problem in seeking out less taxing courses based on your own preferences and strengths. Some students may pursue this in order to balance challenging mandatory requirements. However, looking down on others and assuming their intentions and capabilities based on the courses they take is not okay, as it promotes a negative mentality and division among students and faculties.
For these reasons, bird courses typically have low class participation and general class morale.
People might be less likely to engage in the course content or with their fellow classmates if they view that the course is beneath them or an easy A. Rather than focusing on the bird-related differences between programs, I believe that everyone should simply embrace the variations that are inherent to each program. Within the same course, some students will struggle and others may not, but those who struggle will likely face difficulty in other courses.
Each program and faculty offers unique skills and abilities that can provide students with benefits across many disciplines. As each course has something different to offer, we may as well slow down and try to appreciate and understand the content rather than fly through it.