What do you know about psychology? Probably a lot—you're a smart kid reading People, Places, Pines after all. But yours truly knew nothing about it up to this term. And this was a problem: as I go deeper into my Computer Science major, more is asked of me in terms of designing for people. And this requires understanding people; therefore, I decided to dip my toes into the wonderful world of the mind.
And what a ride I got myself into! This class is *very* different from my usual STEM. And that's coming from someone who is no stranger to taking humanities classes. I believe professors Wheatley and Duchaine's background in psychology, and therefore in learning, truly served them in designing this online class. Every Friday we receive our lecture videos, which we can watch at our pleasure. Then, Monday we have an interview with an invited speaker, either from within Dartmouth or from another institution. These interviews dive deep into a topic related to the lectures: it might be a researcher interested in Autism as it relates to the brain's chemistry, or another who is excited to tell us about all the different research they've done all over the psychology field. Either way, it is a unique opportunity to interact with faculty, and even to learn of interesting research projects students can help with!
Then, Wednesday and Friday we have a group session. There, an undergraduate TA (Teaching Assistant) helps us review the lectures and clarifies any questions we have. We are then quizzed on the lectures. This, however, makes only part of our grade. We also complete quizzes on the book readings we do, and write reports on scientific articles we are prompted to read. It is, as you can see, a lot of work. But it is very rewarding! I feel my brain has really benefited from this class. Whenever I want to take a harsh decision, I step back and think about it rationally. I also feel more empathetic towards other people. Most importantly, I have learned effective strategies to stay on top of my studies, and they have been a life saver through this very complex fall term!
I believe my takeaway is that if you feel a class could be interesting, or help you in any way, you should go for it. It is, after all, a Liberal Arts institution: liberate yourself! Especially when you can use the NRO (non-recording option): with this magical trick, you can take a class, and it only counts towards your GPA if you get a grade at or above a threshold you set yourself! This can be used up to three times through your Dartmouth career, which accounts for around 10% of the total class a student takes. It is a great option if you feel something is a bit too far from your zone of comfort, but you don't want to miss on it.
Hoping you'll be bold when choosing classes,