An Introduction to Introductory Courses
As a freshman, I knew I was going to be taking a lot of introductory courses, at least in my first term. While that was definitely a true statement, the vision I had in mind of huge classes and boring lectures was not. In the fall, I took Introduction to Sociology and Chemistry 5, which is the equivalent of an introductory course in chemistry. In addition, I took Biology 11, which was the suggested course for students to take before diving into the more rigorous Foundation courses. All my classes had a relatively large number of students, more than 50, and were mostly composed of freshmen.
After I knew what classes I was taking, I began worrying about whether or not I would develop a relationship with my professors such that I would feel comfortable asking for help. But looking back now, there were many ways in which I was able to grow and succeed in my introductory courses. Here are my tips:
- Go to office hours! All of my professors had weekly office hours, and this was the time when I got to know them the most. I usually asked them specific questions I had, in addition to any general qualms about future tests or material. Although it was pretty nerve-racking at first to start a conversation, by the end of the term, I found it natural to knock on their office doors and start talking.
- Make friends with people in your classes. This was especially easy for me in my chemistry class because we were assigned small groups. This is actually the case in many science classes, including the genetics class I’m taking right now. Small groups made it easier to ask questions while we were working through problems together and also provided the opportunity to explain material to others. And of course, it was nice to get to know other people, especially upperclassmen who always had advice to give.
- Don’t be afraid to sit in the front. I found that sitting towards the front of the room (third row is my favorite) kept me more attentive, focused, and unaware of all the people behind me. As a generally shy person, I felt more confident raising my hand and participating in class because there wasn’t a huge number of people in my line of vision.
I honestly enjoyed all of my introductory classes more than I thought I would. We covered a broad range of materials, which is especially helpful if you’re unsure of a major and want to test the waters in certain subjects. For example, in my sociology class we discussed everything from corporate responsibility to the feminization of poverty to symbolic interactionism. It was definitely eye-opening to become acquainted with entire fields of thought and disciplines in just ten weeks. So next time you’re signed up for Intro to Anthropology or Physics or Psychology, have no fear! You just might love it.