As course selection begins, you might find yourself searching endlessly through the Course Offerings webpage, trying to craft the perfect schedule for next semester. You’re probably weighing a number of different factors— the professor, the class topic, the reading list, the different requirements it fulfills— and trying to balance these in the best way possible.There is another possibility here, which you can’t find in the course offerings: reading courses. Not advertised on department websites or listed with course offerings, reading courses are some of Princeton’s hidden academic gems. The University defines a reading course as a specially designed course not normally offered as part of the curriculum that is arranged between a student and a faculty member. These courses count for academic credit, and focus on a topic of the student’s choosing. If you’ve ever dreamed about designing your own course, this is your opportunity.
It’s always a mixed bag of emotions when it comes to course selection. Personally, I find the period between when the next semester’s courses are released and before the course selection date to be especially fun—I can play around with the different ideal schedules (potentially having no-class Fridays and no night classes), look ahead to the rest of the courses that I’ll be taking during my time here, and discover new classes. Whether people end up choosing to take classes to fulfill requirements, classes that interest them, or classes that could teach them important skills, an important aspect in choosing courses for the upcoming semester is course planning. TigerApps is a group of student developers that builds apps to improve the campus life experience for Princeton students. One of the TigerApps created is ReCal, which is the most popular way to aid in course planning and ensure a smooth process for course selection. Recently, TigerJunction ReCal+, an application for course planning inspired by ReCal and designed to be an “improved” version, has made its rounds among students. As course selection season is upon us, I wanted to take the opportunity to show how I plan my courses for the next semester and provide an in-depth comparison between ReCal and TigerJunction ReCal+ to inform how other students plan their courses for the upcoming semesters.
After having written “My BSE Fall Semester Experience in the Engineering Sequence”, I wanted to continue writing about my experience in the spring semester portion of the sequence; if you haven’t read my first post yet, go read it! To reiterate, the Engineering Sequence is a set of five courses intended to fulfill first-year engineering requirements through an introduction to engineering fundamentals in the context of real-world applications. BSE degree requirements include four semesters of math, two semesters of physics, one semester of chemistry, and every first-year student is required to take one semester of writing seminar. The Engineering Sequence begins at the Integral Calculus (Calculus II) and the Physics Mechanics level, meaning that it will cover for the two required semesters of physics and the four semesters of math in five courses throughout three semesters. Read on to learn more about the spring sequence!
College is daunting. It’s normal for incoming first-years to feel uncertain about many things, especially course selection. I remember looking through every course on the course offerings page to determine the classes I would be taking in the fall, and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available. I came into Princeton as a prospective COS (Computer Science) BSE student, so my class choices were inevitably influenced by my BSE degree requirements. BSE degree requirements include four semesters of math, two semesters of physics, one semester of chemistry, and every first-year is required to take one semester of writing seminar. Read on to learn about my experiences in the EGR sequence, starting with EGR 151.
Thank you to the best friends in the world for sending in their favorite courses!
“Does anyone know a good English class?” “I need to fulfill my history requirement.” “I am looking for a chill, creative P/D/F course.” Everyone is searching for the best schedule possible and I know that many of you are open for suggestions. In my last post, I wrote about my favorite courses at Princeton as a SPIA major interested in law and service (see post here). But, I understand that every Princeton student is unique, so I have spoken with classmates and friends within other majors to better understand the full Princeton experience. Thus, without further ado, here are the most unforgettable courses that they have taken at Princeton.
“I have to wake up at 6:23 AM for course enrollment?!” Yes. You do. But you got this! It’s true that course enrollment is still a month away, but it is never too early to start drafting your schedule to avoid this “oh no” early-bird moment. Generally, I recommend taking courses that excite you, even if they are outside of your major, because before you know it you’ll be an old senior like me wishing you had time to take more. Everyone has a different taste in classes. I am a SPIA major who is passionate about service, social justice, and law, but I have tried to take unique and expansive research-based classes. Thus, without further ado, here are 5 of my most memorable classes at Princeton, in no particular order, and why they might be of interest to you:
If there is one thing we as students have mastered in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is Zoom and the Zoom environment. Looking back to last spring, it is admirable how educational institutions and students adapted to an unprecedented global crisis and continued with their academic and non-academic roles. Here at Princeton, the transition to Zoom was relatively smooth given the uncertainty and fear at the time. Although the initial stages of scheduling an online semester were difficult, there was a strong desire to sustain many of Princeton’s activities for the virtual campus community. The concerted efforts of students, faculty and staff have paid off. The three semesters of virtual learning I’ve had so far mimicked almost all the characteristics of the usual in-person experience I’ve come to expect at Princeton, including access to office hours.
The main medium for virtual interaction is Zoom, and it has been adapted for almost every facet of university activity, from school clubs and organizations to school hosted events and webinars. In this post, I will take a closer look at the Zoom office hours, their many advantages and in some cases, how they are actually better than in-person ones. I will then offer some suggestions for making the best use of Zoom office hours this spring.
Are you struggling to focus on your assignments because you can’t stop scrolling through TikTok? Do not stress! Although TikTok can be addictive, your For Your Page (FYP) may actually have an unintended positive academic side-effect. For those who aren’t familiar with TikTok, your FYP is your personalized feed of videos. Everyone has a different FYP according to their interests. I would like to suggest that your FYP can actually help you find spring courses that you are passionate about. Oftentimes, students aren’t sure which classes they should take because they don’t realize that non-academic interests can actually transfer into academic practice. So, I would like to help create this connection for you: think about what type of videos you see on your FYP (and if you don’t have TikTok then on social media in general) and I will suggest some courses that I think you would love.
Is your FYP full of the latest celebrity drama or “tea”? I think conducting research through certain psychology courses may satisfy your need for gossip. Through psychology, you can explore more deeply why the drama between your favorite celebrities happens and what they might be thinking and feeling. Furthermore, if you are a first year, then I suggest looking into WRI 153: The Meaning of Celebrity. In this course, you can conduct research on your favorite celebrities and also explore how they impact social values.
If your FYP is full of politics, then you might consider taking an academic approach to this interest through taking a politics course. Two courses in which you can pursue political research are POL 316: Civil Liberties and POL 240: International Relations. In POL 316 you can explore the value of civil liberties through researching key topics such as abortion and discrimination and in POL 240 you can learn how the politics of international cooperation work. Furthermore, if you want to conduct a statistical analysis of the contemporary political events you learn about online, then I suggest taking POL 345: Introduction to Quantitative Social Science. In this course you analyze data using R and conduct a ton of applicable political research. For example, I am currently enrolled in POL 345 and we’ve been analyzing polling data leading up to the election to predict who the next President will be.
If you often see make-up tutorials, dancing, or singing on your FYP, then think about how you might be able to engage with these arts beyond your phone screen. I suggest that you browse through the Lewis Center for the Arts course offerings. This spring they will have courses in photography, painting, sculpture, dancing, and more!
Is your FYP full of Among Us or League of Legends streams? Princeton has an abundance of courses that will allow you to pursue research in technology or gaming. One course that I particularly recommend for first year students is WRI 185: Gamification. I took this writing seminar and absolutely loved it because through this course you can explore what makes up the essential elements of a game and also research games that you enjoy playing. Some other courses that gamers may like are COS 126: Computer Science: An Interdisciplinary Approach, through which you can begin to explore how coders actually program games, and MAT 378: Theory of Games, through which you can learn how to use mathematical concepts to solve games.
If your FYP is full of Draco Malfoy, Cinderella, or Star Wars scenes, then you should check out English courses such as ENG 385: Children’s Literature. Although this course won’t be offered this spring, I suggest looking out for it in the future because in this course you can analyze the novels you read as a child, including Harry Potter! I also think that a Creative Writing class would be a great fit for you. More specifically, you can take CWR 204: Creative Writing (Fiction) to learn how to actually write your own fantasy. Lastly, if you are interested in studying French FRE 207: Studies in French Language and Style centers around analyzing French fantasies. I am currently enrolled in FRE 207 and it’s one of the most interesting courses that I’ve taken at Princeton.
Do you love watching videos of adorable puppies and newborns? Developmental psychology would be an awesome course for you to take. In PSY 254: Developmental Psychology, you can discover what is actually happening within the brains of the cute little babies you see on TikTok. I also recommend looking out for PSY338: From Animal Learning to Changing People’s Minds in the future (as it is not offered this spring). In this course, you can learn more about the way the puppy on your For You Page thinks and makes decisions. One other course that I recommend for those who are interested in animals and would like to explore the relationship between animals and humans more deeply and in a religious context is REL 214: Religion, Ethics, and Animals. These courses will help you see the cute videos you view on TikTok through a new perspective and are definitely worth looking into.
Your TikTok FYP can tell you a lot about who you are and what you love. After spending countless hours on TikTok myself, I realized what I really enjoy watching and learning about. I now take courses in fields that are related to my FYP and feel so passionate about the topics that I’m able to research. I hope that you too can try linking your personal interests with your academic plans by taking courses this Spring that you truly feel are “For You”.
Last spring, I began the semester specifically planning to PDF my English class. I knew my schedule would be time-consuming, since in addition to English, I was also taking immunology, organic chemistry, intro to material science, and Portuguese. Because I intended to count all of my other courses as either CBE departmental electives or towards a Portuguese certificate, so I thought it would be wisest to PDF English.
However, half-way through the semester, I realized that I was doing relatively well with the English coursework, so I probably did not need to PDF the course. The course that was actually more time-consuming and difficult than I had expected was immunology. This caused me to rethink my process for choosing how to select a course to PDF. I started to look at the course load itself instead of just at the requirements I was satisfying, and in the end, I chose to PDF immunology. In this post, I will discuss in more detail some things I considered before making my decision and offer tips for selecting to PDF a class.
The registrar for spring courses came out not too long ago. It’s time to start thinking about course selection!
Each semester, Princeton offers over 1,000 courses, taught in over 100 departments and programs, over a range of 8 distributions by professors who have served as Presidents, been awarded Nobel Prizes, made groundbreaking discoveries in their fields, and received Pulitzer Prizes. At Princeton, each course is not just a series of lessons; courses are opportunities–opportunities to travel, to get to know professors, to learn methods for independent work, to explore your interests.
With so much available each semester, how does one pick just 4 or 5 courses to take?
Here is a guide to Princeton’s (many) resources for selecting courses. Included are reviews of different online applications for course searching and scheduling and a few general tips of advice.