Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Makenna May ’17

Coeur d'Alene, Idaho • French Language and Literature View Profile

Choosing Classes

When I was a little girl, I always loved the first day of school. I think that it's something about packing up your new school supplies and picking out your outfit the night before and finding a note from your mom in your lunchbox. And even though I’m 21 now, I still look forward to the first day of classes. Sometimes not much changes as you grow up, and I love that renewed energy and the fresh start (and, of course, the new notebooks)! Luckily for me, I now get two first days of school each year, since each semester brings an entirely new class schedule.

My friend Cat and I always take a photo together on our first day. This is from the first day of our sophomore year!
My friend Cat and I always take a photo together on our first day. This is from the first day of our sophomore year!

The spring semester will start on February 1st, and needless to say, I’m excited. What makes it great at Princeton is getting to choose between so many classes. I thought that I’d write about course selection in general and my rationale for choosing my junior spring classes in this blog.

The next semester’s course offerings are always published after our midterms week, so this spring’s classes were released at the beginning of November. I spent several hours reading through all of the course offerings and making note of anything that interested me. I am like a kid in a candy shop the first time that I peruse the offerings, meaning that I want to take everything all at once!

Hmm... I clearly have some choices to make here!
Hmm... I clearly have some choices to make here!

But alas, I sadly admitted that I cannot follow three classes at 11:00 am on Monday, so choices must be made. A typical course load at Princeton is four courses per semester, although some students choose to take five for various reasons. However, I am sticking with four this semester since I will also be writing my spring junior paper as well.

As a junior, my priority is making sure that I complete the requirements for my major (French) and my certificate (Urban Studies). I have one class left to fulfill for my Urban Studies certificate, so I really wanted to take a course that would complete the program this semester. Luckily for me, FRE 317: Visions of Paris works for both my major and my certificate, so FRE 317 was my first (and easiest) decision of which class to take. I also happen to love statistics an inordinate amount, so I am taking SML 201: Introduction to Data Science as a treat for myself. I am looking forward to breaking up all of the essays with problem sets and some math; I always appreciate a balanced workload, and I am actually quite the nerd when it comes to applied math!

Then things got a bit trickier. I am really interested in issues surrounding higher education access and outcomes, so I am excited about SOC 349: Schools and Society: Race, Class and Gender in U.S. Education and AMS 311: Education and Inequality. The course description of FRE 319: Language, Power and Identity also sounds like it could offer a neat perspective on education. But why must the timing of these courses conflict?! Well, I am going to try the three of them during the first week of courses and (hopefully) narrow it down to two of them after the first week. Wish me luck!

Here is the schedule that I will be trying for my first two weeks. Narrowing down was tricky, but this is much more manageable!
Here is the schedule that I will be trying for my first two weeks. Narrowing down was tricky, but this is much more manageable!

Which brings me to my last point: in case you have as much trouble making decisions as me, you should take full advantage of the opportunity to course shop during the first two weeks of classes. This is the “add-drop period,” which means that we can try out different courses and switch around our schedules until our choices are finalized on February 12th. This helps with not only picking between classes but also making sure that you're in the right level of a math or language class.

I guess that I'll end by saying that the variety of course topics and the mix of both large and small classes at Princeton has always made for a nicely well-balanced and interesting course load for me. I'm excited to see what four classes I end up choosing this spring semester!