Spectrum | Sep. 3 3:52 pm EST
learning

First-years, course registration starts today! Here are five classes you should take

This guy isn't teaching Principles this semester.

Attention, first-years!

While you’ve been reveling in your newfound independence as a college student during NSOP, an ugly reality has crept up on you: Class registration starts today!

Yes, you need to take some classes while you’re at Columbia. That’s life. Fortunately, the Spectrum staff has been there. Here are some classes you should take—ones that will help you start off your college career right.

Joyce with Philip Kitcher: MW 2:40 p.m.-3:55 p.m.

Never really got “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” in high school? Want to understand Joyce instead of just pretending to?

Now’s your chance to tackle (gulp) “Ulysses” and Joyce’s other works, and apply the lessons you learn to your own drunken nights! Kitcher is a warm, comforting, and never pretentious or stuffy instructor—which can be kinda rare at Columbia.

Introduction to Electrical Engineering with David Vallancourt: TR 4:10 p.m.-5:25 p.m.

Glowing CULPA reviews say that he’s an experienced researcher who not only knows his shit but is very engaging during lectures and very approachable after. Many a SEAS student has become an electrical engineering major after taking this class.

And even if you’re in SEAS and have absolutely no interest in electrical engineering, this course can go toward your preprofessional requirement. So you win no matter what.

(What is CULPA, you ask? It stands for Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability. “Culpa” is also Latin for mistake or fault. It is the student body’s institutional memory on professors.)

The United States in the Era of Civil War and Reconstruction with Eric Foner: MW 2:40 p.m.-3:55 p.m.

Foner, if you haven’t heard, is a Columbia hotshot. A leading historian on post-Reconstruction America, he’s an institutional pillar at Columbia—he went to CC (just like you!) and was going to grad school for history during 1968 and stuff (when history was being made here!!).

In addition to being famous, he gives an amazing lecture and has a kind of cult following at Columbia. (Yes, some professors have cult followings.) Remember, you came to Columbia to rub elbows (elbow-padded elbows!) with famous professors. Here’s your first chance.

Gandhi’s India with Janaki Bakhle: MW 9:10 a.m.-10:25 a.m.

I mentioned cult followings, right? Well, Bakhle is pretty much the definition of that. She’s a fabulous, fast-paced lecturer on a subject matter (history of modern India + life of Gandhi) a lot of people are interested in.

Bakhle does, though, have a reputation for being a tough grader. On top of that, the class starts at 9:10 a.m., a time that, yes, is meant to discourage some students for signing up for it and prevent it from being overenrolled. But look on the bright side: You can learn a lot and get a Global Core class out of it.

A lower-level language class!

So you did well in high school Beginner French. (Of course you did, you got into Columbia.) That means you can do well in it again!

Taking an elementary language course gives you the chance to relive elementary school by learning colors and numbers in a 15-person class. And if it’s in a language you’ve studied before, it can be a big, juicy, guaranteed A. Besides, whether you like it or not, CC has a foreign language requirement.

A final note: These are all good classes to take, but probably not all at once.

What I mean, freshies, is don’t spread yourself too thin by taking six classes your first semester. Yes, I know you’re an overachiever, but resist the urge. Making friends, doing extracurriculars, and in general adjusting to college life are all things that you need precious time to do. You’ll be better suited for a six-class courseload once you have a semester under your belt. You’ll thank us later.

Have any other suggestions? Let us know below (and before you shout at us in the comments, Gulati is not teaching Principles of Economics this fall).

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COMMENTS (3)

  1. Anonymous • September 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm • Reply

    Gulati isn’t that great, but Kitcher was amazing and endlessly knowledgable.

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  2. In re: Gulati • September 4, 2010 at 9:35 am • Reply

    I have to disagree — he’s not the divine presence some students make him out to be, but he’s an excellent teacher. Yes, the shtick stays the same from year to year, but why shouldn’t it?

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  3. Anonymous • September 4, 2010 at 1:05 pm • Reply

    All he does in class is slowly take you through the stuff you should have read in the book to begin with. I was awake (but not really in the mood to pay attention at 9am) for his lectures, and would admit that he is energetic and a good communicator. However, when it came down to test time I just read through the book and got easy A’s.

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