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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