Course Selection Buffet

Written by JOE RAMOS

With Summer 2013 and Fall 2013 registration less than a month away it would prove wise to meet with your counselor if you have not done so already and plan out which courses you need and/or want to take for the upcoming semester. Each degree plan has a set amount of elective courses built-in, whether they are upper-division science electives or free electives of your choosing. For some, the process of selecting electives can be stressful. Looming questions such as, “Should this elective relate to my major?” and, “Which electives will make me most competitive for professional school?” are valid and should be considered, but there is an abundance of viable options that some students may not know exist. It is my goal to shed some light.

During the recent Spring 2013 Department Chair Luncheon, I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Daniel Jaffe, Astronomy Department Chair. “When I first began teaching,” explains Dr. Jaffe, “a fair amount of the things I was teaching were incorrect. Our understanding is constantly evolving.” Astronomy, along with other disciplines like computer science and management information systems, are areas where new information, methodologies, and concepts emerge. To learn all of the content in one of the subjects above would be a futile attempt, as the knowledge base expands at a very fast pace; rather, it becomes “imperative to think critically.”   

Critical thinking is one of many skills taught in Dr. Jaffe’s course, AST 351: Astronomical Instrumentation. This upper-division science elective is open to all majors in all colleges, with no prior instrumentation experience necessary; Dr. Jaffe simply wishes his students to have an open mind, and some solid quantitative skills.

By the end of the semester, students will walk way seasoned project managers with a good understanding of instrumentation, computer-aided design (CAD), budget management, and circuit assembly, among other things.

With the 2015 MCAT on the horizon for the pre-medical students, current and future classes must have a basic behavioral knowledge, acquired through courses like PSY 301 and SOC 302. Many students enter college with AP or IB credit for PSY 301, and as academic advisor Cindy Bippert explains, “[…] it may not be a bad idea to claim it [credit].” If a student decides to claim his or her PSY 301 credit and is on a pre-medical track, Cindy recommends taking an upper-division psychology course, should schedule space allow, to keep the fundamentals fresh and to increase one’s understanding of behavioral processes [NOTE: not official advising; see your own advisor for your personal needs and inquiries]. There are a slew of upper-division psychology courses, most notably the PSY 341K series, which can provide an interesting course, requisite information, and upper-division credit. Some of the most popular courses in the PSY 341K series (open to all upper-division students with PSY 301 credit) are: PSY 341K: Human Sexuality and PSY 341K: Introduction to Early Childhood Intervention. Outside of the PSY 341K series, PSY 352: Abnormal Psychology also provides for a deeper behavioral understanding.

Finally, much can be said about the Business Foundations Program (BFP).  The program is open to all non-business majors, taught by the business school that the Princeton Review considers to have the number one faculty (2012), and best of all, “THERE IS NO FORMAL APPLICATION PROCESS REQUIRED TO BEGIN THE PROGRAM.” If you have an interest in acquiring a fundamental background in business and can fit in the entire 24 credit hour sequence, fantastic; if you can only fit in one course, that, too, is acceptable. For most students, the first course taken is MIS 302F: Foundations in Information Technology Management. This course teaches methods of management that incorporate technology’s increasing presence in the business realm, as well as fundamental information regarding information technology (IT). For a student interested in opening up his or her own practice, company, laboratory, research facility, etc., this course is indispensible.

The above information is admittedly only a drop in the bucket of courses that our wonderful, expansive university has to offer, but for some, it may be quite a bit to consider. I sincerely hope that this information proves useful in some capacity.

Wishing you way more than luck during the upcoming registration cycle

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