June 16, 2015

Choosing College Classes

The Balance Between Too Hard and Too Easy

With the exception of Writing 1, you have the power to choose each and every class you want to take in order to fulfill the 120 credits required for graduation.

Unlike high school, you are no longer forced to spend your entire day in one building moseying from class to class in eager anticipation for the final bell to ring. Instead, you finally have the freedom to arrange your own schedule, whether it be according to professor appraisal, time you prefer to roll out of bed, or eating regiment (guilty).

Sounds luxurious, but too many choices can be stressful! It’s all fun and games until you casually browse through the extensive course listing and realize you have no idea what to take. You must not only choose classes that will fulfill your major/minor requirements, but also knock out your ArtSci IQ requirements so you can graduate on time. Is that even possible?

After a quick mental breakdown, you’ll be happy to learn that, yes, there’s an app for that. A beautiful curriculum planning tool, PlanIt gives you the power to plan how to satisfy IQ requirements in a way that satisfies you. By helping you explore and organize your choices, this site will help you both forge and track your path toward completing your academic goals!

However, after signing up for courses that satisfy your requirements, you’ll end up with extra credits that still need to be filled. If I know anything about the brain of a college student, I know that it explodes under the pressure of hard requirements; consequently, any extra credits should be an opportunity to explore classes of interest that won't keep you up all night with work.

So, in an attempt to balance your schedule, I’m here to offer some of my favorite classes up to this point that may fulfill certain requirements while also being fun and engaging.

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Poetry Writing 1
Credits: 3
Hour(s): 1.5

Hands down my favorite class at WashU; I always recommend this class to anyone looking for a humanities credit. You could hate poetry with a burning passion and still end up enjoying and learning from the class (like my suitemate in the engineering school who swore she’d shun me if she failed -- don’t worry, we’re still on speaking terms). The instructors are usually young graduate students who are really entertaining, laid-back, and know how to make poetry interesting.

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Spanish Level 1
Credits: 5
Hour(s): 1, plus 1 hour subsection

Much to your horror, language is a three-semester requirement at WashU. Unless you are a lover of linguistics or plan on pursuing a foreign language major/minor, why not learn a language that is similar to English & spoken by more than 37 million people in the United States? Although this course meets nearly every day of the week (including Fridays) with guaranteed assignments following every class, the homework is not hard & the Fotonovela videos are pretty cute.

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Symphony Orchestra
Credits: 1 (or join for fun!)
Hour(s): 2.5

If you cringe at the prospect of a late night class, this course recommendation probably isn’t for you. The WashU Symphony Orchestra meets to rehearse from 6:30 - 9pm on Monday nights with two concerts each semester. As a shameless plug, the Symphony Orchestra conductor Steven Jarvi is also conductor of the St. Louis Symphony, an orchestra recognized internationally as an ensemble of the highest caliber. Though our prestige & audience attendance falls ever so slightly below that of the St. Louis Symphony, we serve delicious & warm gooey butter cookies and champagne after our concerts! If anything, do it for the treats.

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Intro to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Credits: 3
Hour(s): 1.5

According to one of my friends, this class made her want to “drop her previous life goals” and become a WGSS major -- honestly, I can’t blame her. Sounds cliche, but this class opened my eyes to a lot of popular issues surrounding gender roles and stereotypes that I never cared to notice before learning about it in depth. Case in point, I think everyone should be required to take this course.

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Selected English Writers: Jane Austen
Credits: 3
Hour(s): 1.5

I worked my schedule around this class. I had so many people gush to me about this course and the amazing professor that I had to see if it lived up to all the hype. Spoiler alert: it does. This class is probably the hardest out of all I’ve recommended just because it’s not an introductory course and there’s quite a large reading load followed by papers, but I promise it’s worth the hard work. Plus, you get to reread Pride and Prejudice, assuming you’ve probably read it in high school/for fun/know the synopsis, and you’d be flat-out lying if you claimed not to love that book.

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Anna Belle Hoots