In just a few days, it’ll be time to sign up for classes. Right now, I’m feeling equal parts exhilaration, confusion, apprehension, and anxiety. As an English major, I have much more flexibility than, say, Engineering majors. I have a pretty foggy idea of what I’m supposed to be doing since there’s essentially no structure to follow, but here’s my reasoning behind the tentative schedule that I’ve laid out.
Even though English is my prospective major, I don’t want to take an introductory level English class quite yet. For starters, I want to knock out some graduation requirements. I also don’t want to overwhelm myself yet… I want to get used to academic expectations, the reputedly rigorous workload, and even my classmates. I know I’ll be meeting some brilliant people in the fall, and though I don’t want to disparage myself, I don’t want to further compound my anxiety about keeping up by taking a literature class with people much more prepared than I am (especially since English classes are open to all classes and upperclassmen are already used to the pace). Hopefully I’ll be ready in the spring!
1st necessary item: Physical/Biological science
To acquire a degree from Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences, you need 2-3 Physical/Biological science (PBS) courses and 1-2 Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning (MQR) course(s). Since that’s 4 compulsory classes unrelated to my prospective major, I’ve decided that one PBS or MQR class per semester will be manageable and will allow me to fulfill the requirements by the end of sophomore year, at which point I can focus on higher level English classes and rounding out my degree requirements. For my first class, I’m considering either Intro to Astronomy, Evolution, Finite Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences, or Statistical Theory and Application in the Real World.
2nd necessary item: Language
CAS requires students to study a language: either pass one upper level language (presumably studied during high school) or take an introductory series. Though I took French for four years, it’s not something I want to continue. I felt pretty confident after the first two years, but we never spoke aloud during French 3 and then got a new teacher in French 4 who basically expected fluency. I got really discouraged, and while I can read passably and write well, I have little desire to. Listening is just embarrassing… I couldn’t even understand a TV show meant for children! As an alternative, I think I’ll take Latin. It meets less than the average language class (since it’s a dead language) and I think it’ll help me read older texts (if not, I can just read Latin manuscripts and feel cool).
3rd necessary item: Freshman Writing Seminar
Everyone is required to take two Freshman Writing Seminars (FWS) unless you can place out of one with AP/IB scores. Since I want to hold off on taking an introductory level English class, I’m hoping to use the FWS requirement to start off. The English department has a list of suggested seminars for prospective majors, including several sections of Writing about Literature. I plan to take one of these, and I’m particularly excited for it because A. I love writing and B. it’s capped at 18 students.
4th necessary item: Extraneous class
I selected my last class based purely on interest. College is supposed to be about exploring your interests, and I think I can afford to do so since my major doesn’t have super restrictive requirements. I want to eventually take an Asian American History class and a course on religion, but I’m very interested in a class called Controversy about Inequality. For all I know, it may even lead to a field of study I didn’t consider before.
Ultimately, I can plan all I want, but my schedule is totally subject to how quickly I can register and beat out other people who want to take my classes. Luckily, I really don’t think there are very many students looking at the classes I want, so I’m hoping I can get everything I want. Crossing my fingers!