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Monday, December 5, 2011

  Here are my picks for my favorite general education course for each area:
  • Area 1: ARTH-210 Modern Art: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 
          I'm an art history minor, so it was easy for me to find courses that interested me in Area 1. Even if you've never taken an art history course before, ARTH-210 is a great option for gen ed credit. The art history department is very small, but professors are more than happy to work with students and understand that this may be students' first exposure to art history. If you're good at memorization and don't mind a bit of reading and writing this is a good class for you!
  • Area 2: LIT-265 Literature and Society in Victorian England
           I admit that this class is not for the faint of heart: it's reading and writing intensive, and the Victorians aren't exactly known for their clear and concise prose. But if you're willing to put in the work, this class will be one of the best ones you take at AU! Your writing will improve as will your analytical skills, which will serve you well in any other course you take. I especially recommend this course for anyone interested in literature or history.  
  • Area 3: LFS-210 Latin America: History, Art, Literature
         LFS stands for "Language and Foreign Studies" and as the title implies, this course is designed to appeal to a wide variety of students. I have a special soft spot for this course because it introduced me to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is now one of my favorite authors (even if you don't take this course, check him out! You don't know what you're missing!). The course has sections taught in English and Spanish.
  • Area 4: PSYC-215 Abnormal Psychology and Society
          What is a college education without at least one psych course? PSYC-215 is the classic college psych course, covering everything from eating disorders to schizophrenia. It's a really interesting class that you'll enjoy even if you're not a psychology major.
  • Area 5: BIO-100 Great Experiments in Biology
          I'm terrible at science. Just awful. So for two years I've been dreading having to complete Area 5. But I took Bio-100 this semester and something miraculous happened- it wasn't that bad! In fact, in many ways it was a lot easier than high school biology. I'm taking Professor Tudge's class and he's great; he understands that most students in the class aren't planning on taking upper-level science courses, so he tailors his lectures to address issues that are relevant to every day life (even the biggest bio-phobe will appreciate the environmental lectures). The lab portion of the class is pretty painless as well. This is a great course for students who know they're not interested in a science major, but for students who think they may want a science-related major or who are considering pre-med, make sure to take BIO-110 General Biology I instead.

If you have any questions about the general education program in general or specific courses, drop us a line at CASpeeradvisors@american.edu. Good luck with registration!

-Lindsay Inge

Friday, December 2, 2011

General Education, Part 2

Gen Eds

Everyone has to take gen eds and, almost inevitably, we all have to deal with the one or two areas with classes we’d rather avoid entirely. For many students, Area 5, the Natural Sciences, is the dreaded area. I never had any problems finishing my sciences, but I had trouble choosing classes in some of the other areas. I came to AU undecided, but have always been a science and math person (and I’m now a math major and music minor). While I didn’t use the gen eds as much to help decide on a major, I wanted seize the opportunity to take classes in subjects that I might otherwise never experience.

Area 1 was especially challenging for me, but I eventually decided I wanted to take Meaning and Purpose in the Arts, PHIL-230. I play the viola and am passionate about music, plus I’d never taken a philosophy class and thought it might be interesting. It’s a choice I’m glad that I made. Meaning andPurpose with Professor Erfani was an absolutely fantastic course. It was conducted mainly as a seminar based on weekly readings. The subject itself was interesting, and I really enjoyed having something different from my math classes. Math courses don’t have many reading assignments, and it was nice to be able to take my readings outside on nice days and sit in the sun, rather than always needing to work at a table. Plus, I got to write one of my papers about Finding Nemo, which was pretty much the most fun assignment ever for me, since I happen to LOVE that movie.

I had a good experience overall with my gen ed classes. Some gen eds I chose because the description sounded interesting, while others I signed up for with friends so that we could all have a better experience completing the requirement. While the gen eds you take may not be your favorite classes, going into them with a positive attitude can make the experience worthwhile. Take time to really look at the options, read course descriptions, peruse wildcard courses, and likely you’ll find at least some classes you think you might actually enjoy.

-Emma Morgan

Monday, November 28, 2011

General Education Courses

The General Education Program: love it or hate it, all students at AU have to fulfill the program's requirements. As you register for spring courses, you may have a tough time deciding which gen ed courses will be of most interest to you. This week we'll highlight some of our favorite gen ed courses and how the program has affected our undergraduate experience. Email us some of your favorite gen eds and we'll share your suggestions in an upcoming post!
Half a semester into my junior year, I have learned to appreciate very much the Gen Ed program. It has allowed me to explore different academic areas (I am now an Econ student thanks to my ECON 100 Gen Ed class) and learn more about fields that I would have otherwise never been interested in. My freshman year I took Understanding Music, a class that at first I was skeptical about (I am quite tone deaf and have never played an instrument), but it has now become my favorite Gen Ed so far(or at least top 2)! My professor was Dr. Anne Kang. She loved teaching about music (it being her doctorate and all) but most importantly, her passion for it was contagious. I remember her playing the piano for us quite often, talking about Beethoven (and music history in general) as if she was BFFs with him and conveying a genuine interest in music that made my Understanding Music semester a surprisingly interesting and awesome one. This class was pretty cool and it certainly changed my perspective about Gen Eds.
(Also, special shout-out to Western Philosophy; great class for my Area 2)

-Triana Tello Gerez

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Hey, everyone! Can you believe it's already November? That means it's time to start thinking about registration for spring 2012 courses!

CAS requires students to take two steps before registering for courses. The first step is to attend a pre-registration workshop. Here a CAS advisor will go over the basics of registration and will bring some new developments to your attention. The second step is to meet with your CAS advisor so that he or she can clear you for registration. When you come to this meeting your advisor will expect you to bring along your proposed schedule for next semester so that he or she can make sure that you are taking appropriate courses. Both the pre-registration workshop and the one-on-one meeting with your advisor for clearance are mandatory-- you will not be able to register until you have completed both steps. 

The peer advisors are a great resource as you develop your spring schedule. If you need help deciding which courses to take, want tips on how to balance your schedule, or have questions about the registration process itself, please don't hesitate to email or visit us! You can make an appointment at http://www.american.edu/cas/advising/undergraduate.cfm, and you can email us at CASPeerAdvisors@american.edu

Keep an eye out for more information about upcoming registration workshops hosted by the peer advisors!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stress, Part 4

Thank you to everyone who emailed us their strategies for managing stress! Take a look at what your fellow students had to say:

"I do yoga to manage my stress from all of my academic work. I always plan out and organize when I'll study for specific classes so that I have a schedule and feel like I can manage all of the work I need to get done. I also make sure to take study breaks after a few hours of working and grab something to eat and go hang out with friends in the lounge, and that's how I manage my stress!"

-Kathleen McLaughlin

"I manage my stress by physical activity, listening to music, and hanging out with my friends. I'm on the bhangra dance team and dancing helps relieve my stress because it's a fun activity and I get to laugh and joke around with my other teammates. AU club volleyball is also fun because I enjoy the sport and it keeps me in shape. I find that when I participate in physical activities, it gets my mind off of what's stressing me out. Listening to my favorite songs also is therapeutic for me because they put me in a certain mood where I allow myself to relax. Hanging out with my friends is always great because I enjoy being around people and so much of my time is spent alone doing homework or studying so it's nice to get together after class or on weekends."
-Angelica Posey

"Organizing my sleep schedule and eating healthy helps me deal with stress. I would recommend not multi tasking and taking things one at a time. When doing hw or studying for exam give a subject an interval of 45 minutes and take a break doing some other subject. This also helps me." 

Hope this helps others also,
Oznur Ozturk

Thanks again for all the submissions! We want to hear your thoughts on other issues affecting freshmen and sophomores at AU, so feel free to send us suggestions for another weekly theme!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stress, Part 3

College is all about getting to know yourself, and a big part of self-awareness is recognizing both your potential and your limitations. When it comes to school I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, but after a few semesters (and a lot of all-nighters), I finally realized that pushing myself so hard was actually decreasing my ability to get the most out of my courses and my time here in DC. Even though it’s possible for me to function on 3 hours of sleep, life is much better when I sleep for a full 7 hours! While I still work hard on my coursework, I’ve also learned to take advantage of other opportunities. For example, I realized that taking an hour to go to the gym makes me feel more energized and productive; it’s a nice break to do something physical after spending hours reading and writing. I love history and art so I’ve also made a point of going to more off-campus lectures and events on the National Mall. Embrace the things you love and remember to treat your body right!

-Lindsay Inge

Monday, October 31, 2011

Stress, Part 2

In dealing with stress, I have come to realize that sleep is a key factor. Let’s face it, in college, sleep is sent way back in our priorities list; it becomes a burden. It took me several inevitable all-nighters and many 5-hours sleep nights to finally realize that the less I sleep, the more time I waste, the less productive I am and most importantly, the more stressed out I get. Not sleeping, I realized, clouds my brain, which leads to me not being able to organize my thoughts. So, to manage stress, the first thing I make sure I do is sleep! Getting to know my body and my limits, especially when it came down to sleeping was crucial. However, of course, not all stress goes away with sleep. So, what do I do in those situations? I bake, I cook and I run; three things that I really enjoy doing and clear my mind of ugly, stressful thoughts. Allowing me to have those little moments of peace, then, boosts my productivity and makes me even less stressed, a win-win situation.

-Triana Tello Gerez

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feeling stressed about midterms, papers, homework, and other aspects of college life? Stress is a completely normal part of college, but it's important that you find ways to deal with that stress and turn it into something positive. This week each of our peer advisors will write about how they deal with stress. We also want to hear how you cope with stress- send us an email at caspeeradvisors@american.edu telling us about your stress relief tactics. We will enter everyone who sends their ideas into a prize drawing, and we'll also publish the submissions on the blog. Please email us your ideas by Friday, November 4th to be entered in the prize drawing. We look forward to hearing from you, and we hope that our suggestions help!
There’s no way to avoid it: at some point, the semester gets stressful. When class work seems overwhelming, I escape to Katzen. Playing my viola allows me to escape from the pressures of other classes and focus on the music I’m making in the moment. It’s a great way to clear my mind and focus on something other than homework. I also make sure to take time to be social and have fun. Whether it’s spending the day at an event downtown or having Monday night parties to watch Castle (my favorite tv show) these little breaks offer some much-needed relaxation and help me return to work recharged. College is a continuous exercise in balance and time management, and it’s important to find a happy mix of work and fun!

-Emma Morgan

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Supplemental Instruction Program

The Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program offers free weekly group tutoring sessions for classes that students often find challenging including macro and microeconomics, financial and managerial accounting, physics, chemistry, applied calculus, and statistics. Sessions are led by undergraduate students who have already taken the course at AU and done well. SI leaders attend class and hold 2 weekly hour-long review sessions. These sessions are a chance to ask clarification questions and work on problems in a much smaller group. While an intro macro class may have 300 people, SI sessions usually have fewer than 20. Not only is it easier to learn in a smaller group, but asking for help from another student can be less daunting than going to office hours, paying for private tutoring, or struggling through things on your own. SI is also a great resource if you don’t have specific questions, but just want some extra review time going over material. Often before exams, SI leaders hold longer review sessions, and some leaders even make study guides or practice quizzes.

SI leaders are knowledgeable about the subjects they work with, and they want to help people during their sessions. I was the applied calc SI for 3 semesters and have many friends who are leaders, and we would all agree that it’s always better when we have students to work with! Adjusting to your college course load can be challenging, but SI is a completely free resource to help you succeed!

To view the SI schedule or learn more about the program, visit http://www.american.edu/ocl/asc/

If you’re currently doing well in a class that participates in the SI program, you may have a future as an SI leader! Visit the SI website for more information.

--Emma Morgan

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Can you believe that we’re now over one month into the semester?!? The beginning of a new school year is a busy time, especially for new students. Now that you’ve had a month of great (or maybe not-so-great) experiences at AU, now is a good time to reflect on those experiences and prepare for the rest of the year. That’s where MAP-Works comes in!

MAP-Works is a brief (15 minutes or less) survey that gauges both your academic and social progress. It will ask you about homesickness, homework, and other issues affecting your transition to AU. The survey is designed to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and to help them find resources specifically suited to their needs. Once you complete the survey, you get immediate feedback on your results as well as links to relevant resources. AU also uses the survey to determine what kinds of programs they can plan for the upcoming semester to address students’ needs. To access MAP-Works, simply log into your myau.american.edu portal and click on the icon on the top left of the home page.

While we hope that everyone loves their AU experience so far, we also want to know what you are struggling with or have concerns about. Take 15 minutes to complete the MAP-Works survey and help us help you!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Freshman Interviews

By now you should have received an email from your peer advisor asking you to set up an appointment for a freshman interview- many of you have already responded, so thank you! All CAS freshmen are required to meet with their peer advisor for a freshman interview by October 13th. We know that your schedules are getting busier and busier, but you really will benefit from taking the time to come in for a freshman interview.

The interview is an opportunity for us to meet you and for you to learn how the peer advising program can help you. We also use the interviews as a chance to check-in and ask how your classes are going and how you are adjusting to college. If you have any concerns about your workload or professors, we can help you find academic resources and talk about tips for a successful semester. If you are enjoying your classes, we want to hear about that as well! As part of the freshman interview we also show you how to access and read your DARS report, a great tool for helping you plan your upcoming semesters. We can also talk about majors and minors, and can give you contact information for faculty advisors in all the CAS departments.

To make an appointment with your peer advisor, go to: http://www.american.edu/cas/advising/undergraduate.cfm If you cannot make it to any of your advisor's office hours, just email us and we'll work something out! Remember, you must make an appointment by October 13th! Thank you to everyone who already signed up, and we look forward to seeing the rest of you soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

You're in the Majors!

When: Tuesday, September 20
1:30-4:30 pm
Where: LA Quad (rain site Letts Formal Lounge)

What do free food, prizes, baseball and picking a major have in common? You’ll find them all at You’re in the Majors! Join CAS and the Office of Residence life for an afternoon of baseball-themed fun. Now in its fourth year, You’re in the Majors brings together information about majors, minors, and more. We know that choosing a major can seem overwhelming sometimes, but it should also be fun and exciting to explore all the possibilities AU has to offer! The event will feature representatives from every AU school (not just CAS). Do you find yourself asking, “What can I do with a degree in ___”? Career Center advisors will be there to answer your questions! This is the place to find information about the pre-med program, or the new public health program, while also presenting opportunities to talk with students from different departments. Your lovely peer advisors (that would be us!) will also be there, so stop by and say hi!

Fun Fact: In the spirit of You’re in the Majors, TDR will be serving baseball-themed food, so stop by for a hotdog and then come explore your majors!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Professors' Office Hours

Sitting across the room from a very knowledgeable and passionate person can be a rewarding, yet intimidating, experience. I remember when I came to college I was amazed by my Econ professor; his credentials, experience, passion and knowledge made me want to talk to him, but at the same time, it was a three hundred person classroom where the professor had no idea who we were. There was also the fear that, given that he is a university level professor, he would have no time (or preferred not) to talk to a fresh-out-of-high school student. Then the class started getting a little confusing, and I wanted to ask many questions, but still felt like it would be dumb of me to go ask him questions about stuff that had already been covered in class. But finally, I armed myself with courage, found his office in some remote building and went to his office hours. To my surprise, he was a very down to earth guy, but most importantly, he was happy to see a student come in with questions and enthusiasm. During that visit, not only did he clarify all my questions (even though some took a lot of patience) but we also chatted about his academic career and economics in general (even though I did not know much). From then on, I realized that attending class and doing homework and readings was not all the college academic experience had to offer; here I had the opportunity to go beyond that and enrich my learning through talking to professors and getting to know what they do in their field.

The lesson here is, do not be afraid of the person standing at the podium. These professors are here because they are passionate about their fields, but most importantly, because they love sharing that knowledge with their genuinely interested students. Whether you have questions or simply want to talk, your professors will be glad if you pay them a visit during their office hours—talking with students is the purpose of office hours, so take advantage of them!

-Triana Tello Gerez

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why Meet with a Peer Advisor?

Welcome to the CAS Peer Advising Blog! My name is Lindsay, and I'm one of four undergraduate students who make up the CAS Peer Advising program. We serve as an additional advising resource for freshmen and undecided sophomores. Drawing on our experiences as current undergraduate students at AU, we advise students on the General Education program, university requirements, choosing courses, exploring majors, and finding academic resources to help you have a successful and rewarding experience at AU.

Why meet with a peer advisor? Because we've gone through everything you are experiencing now: we've sat through the classes, met the professors, and experimented with majors and minors till we found the perfect one. If we can't answer your question, we will know exactly who on campus can! Here is a little more information about the four of us:
Kate Bodman is from South Jersey. She advises students with the last names E-K. Kate is a senior majoring in art history working part time as a teacher’s assistant and interning at an art gallery in DC. She enjoys watching the Philadelphia Phillies, and visiting the museums on the National Mall. This past summer she studied abroad in Rome, Italy.

Lindsay Inge is from Westminster, Maryland. She advises students with the last names L-P. Lindsay is a senior majoring in history with a minor in art history. Last summer Lindsay interned at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. This is her second year as a peer advisor. 

Emma Morgan is a senior from Turlock, California. She advises students with the last names A-D. She is majoring in math with a minor in music. She loves playing the viola and is a member of the AU Symphony Orchestra. Emma spent last spring abroad at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and loves talking about study abroad and the other great opportunities AU has to offer.

Triana Tello Gerez is a junior from Mexico City, Mexico. She advises students with the last names Q-Z. Triana is double majoring in Economics and Environmental Studies. She just spent last summer studying abroad in London at the London School of Economics and would love to talk about the study abroad experience.

We all love to work with students, so don't be shy! Email us (caspeeradvisors@american.edu), stop by to chat (our office is Battelle 164), or make an appointment to meet with us by following this link: http://www.american.edu/cas/advising/undergraduate.cfm.We look forward to seeing you all soon!