How to Pick A Class

by Alex King

            I’m a senior, so I know everything. But it was not always this way- my first semester here at Penn, I accidentally took a quantum physics class because I had no idea how to pick the right class. Don’t make the same mistake, because while you may not know everything yet, I do:

5. Department
I guess this matters. History professors have the most mutton chops per capita, while Economics professors double as ESL students. Wharton professors are either bitterly jaded or on the verge of a midlife crisis. Biology classes have inexplicably hot chicks, and ugly ugly men. Political science, on the other hand, is filled with giant blonde ubermenschen and future spinsters. Plan accordingly.

4. Professor
Hot or not?

3. Size
It matters. If the class is too small- a seminar perhaps- even the subtlest hints of falling asleep will be noticed by the professor. But massive classes aren’t the way to go either, those classes where the professor stands before his flock like the Pope leading the Eucharist are about as interesting as the Pope leading the Eucharist. No, the ideal size is in the middle, where you have enough anonymity to coast through lectures but still have the opportunity to raise your hand now and then when you’re feeling uppity/particularly good at bullshitting.

2. Difficulty
Obviously an important metric- but can you trust Penn Course Review? Sometimes a professor is up front about these things- if they say there’ll be a midterm every week, they probably mean it. But sometimes these things are deceptive: if the professor seems stern, droll and lifeless, the class will probably be a breeze. If the prof seems lively, upbeat and wants to be your friend, then he or she will screw you utterly with impossible assignments. It’s why they’re smiling.

1. Time
Far and away the most important thing to consider. If the class is at 9am, is it alright if you never go? If in the afternoon, will it conflict with the important mid afternoon nap? If the recitation is on Friday, will your TA mind you being hungover, or will he/she also be hungover? While the platonic ideal of classes would never actually meet at all, you still shouldn’t settle for a class that meets during happy hour. Think ahead!

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