"Like a Pro" can be found in the Tuesday (bonus Friday post) issues of TNH. This is the unedited and cut blog version of the column.
Students at UNH will soon be picking their classes for the spring 2010 semester and I have decided to give some advice on the general education courses I have taken. Please remember that classes may differ depending on the professor, but usually the level of difficulty remains the same.
Math 420 (Finite Math) If you took discrete math in high school this class will be very easy. Most of the grade is based on three exams, with quizzes and homework making up a smaller portion. The homework usually doesn't take more than 15-25 minutes and the quizzes are easy if you attend the lectures. The exams can be hard because they cover a lot, but attending lectures and doing the homework will keep you from having to stay up all night studying.
Psych 401 (Intro to Psychology) I was in 200-person lecture that was based on four exams (20% each) attendance (15%) and the last 5% was for participation in an out of class study by a psych major. The lectures basically outline the book chapter by chapter, and they are actually pretty interesting. This class is easy as long as you take decent notes and attend the lectures.
Polt 401 (Politics and Society) This is by far the worse class I have ever taken in my entire life. It revolves around reading political philosophy including Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, among others. The three exams make up most of the grade, so one poor grade can be hard to recover from. I had Professor Haight who was very enthusiastic but was not that clear when interpreting the readings during the lectures. I taught myself more the day before the final by using online resources (wikipedia and spark notes) than I learned all semester. I would not recommend this to a non-major. The class average of our first exam was a 55%.
Hist 406 (Modern US History) I actually really enjoyed this class. It started out slow but once we got to the 1920's and on it became really interesting. My class had three 2-page papers with a third larger paper on a historical novel plus the midterm and final. There was also a 10% attendance grade so if you are one to skip classes I would not recommend this class. If you can write decent essays this class should be an easy B or higher.
Hist 421 (Ancient Civilizations Pre 16th Century) I had Professor Couser who described this class as being an “easy C with a few B’s and fewer A’s.” In my section we didn't take one test or quiz and it was completely based on essays and participation in discussions. Even the midterm and final were take home essays and if you use notes from the lectures they are actually pretty easy. If your good at writing solid analysis papers in 3-5 pages this class should be easy.
Mirc 407 (Germs 101) Germs is a highly requested class here at UNH because it is very easy and it can actually be quite interesting. This class does involve some “busy work,” especially the group projects, which feel like a huge waste of time. I would recommend this class because it definitely helps out the old GPA. Germs in a nutshell: wash your hands. Did I mention there are no exams?
NR 435 (Contemporary Conservation Issues) This class is taught by Professor Bill Mautz, who is arguably one of the best professors on campus. 435 is a very easy environmental science class that basically covers everything form Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and much more. Although the lectures can be boring and the exams are hard, one-page essays and blackboard quizzes that can be retaken make for an easy “A.”
ESci 501 (Intro to Oceanography) This class revolves around 4 exams worth 20% each and a lab grade worth 20%. The exams are not too hard and the labs are pretty easy. Plus you get to go on a boat, but compared to other science general education courses this class can be more challenging. I found oceanography to be the most interesting science I have taken, but compared to Germs and NR it was also the hardest.
MUSI 401 (Intro to Music) This class is boring, but should fill up your fine arts general education requirement without too much trouble. As long as you keep track of the quiz dates this a great class to take if you like to skip class. Most of the quizzes are identifying certain songs that are found on CD’s that come with the book. Professor Urquhart is very enthusiastic about this subject, but it seems as though he would prefer to be teaching music majors.
Latin 401/2 (Intro to Latin) If you are required to take a language I highly recommend Latin. All three of the intro professors are very helpful. The best thing about Latin is that it is not spoken, so you do not have to worry about performing in front of your classmates.
Stay classy, not UMassy