There are so many classes to choose from at UChicago: “Listening to Movies”, “Critical Videogame Studies”, and “Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the Construction of Childhood” are just a few. Because we recently went through the process of bidding for our fall quarter courses, I figured it would be relevant to explain my thoughts.
First of all, plan your requirements out in advance. Your classes will generally be split into three equal chunks: Core, Major, and Electives, so a third of your classes can be completely exploratory. Generally, first year students begin with Core classes (but they don’t need to!) and maybe a few classes from different majors they’re interested in. Most second- and third- years take a mix of Core and major classes, and fourth years take mostly electives while they finish their major. Again, this is generally how divide their time in the College, but what’s great is that there is so much flexibility, so you don’t need to complete your classes in any order. College advisers are immensely helpful in planning out your schedule, so you’ll never have to decide on classes alone. My adviser Sally always helps me organize my classes ahead of time, so when it comes time to ‘bid’ (aka choose classes), I already have an idea of which ones to select.
Second, the bidding process is your first stop for exploring possible majors in your first and second year. If you’ve recently found yourself drawn to lectures at the Institute of Politics, you might look for introductory classes in Political Science or Public Policy. If your Language and the Human humanities class called has been particularly interesting for you, maybe a class in the Linguistics department is calling your name. In my Self, Culture, and Society Core class, I found myself loving our philosophical discussions. When it came time to sign up for classes again, I looked through all of the philosophy classes and signed up for one called Memory and Unity of a Person. The class explored different philosophical ideas around identity, existence, and consciousness; topics I find fascinating. That class helped me decide to become a philosophy major, which might not have happened if I hadn’t explored philosophy classes during the bidding process.
Third, the course catalog is extremely helpful. Look through it and find interesting classes to take for your electives. There are so many fascinating subjects out there and college is your time to try them out. One quarter during my first year, I wanted to take four classes, but I wanted something unique and outside of my major. I searched through classes in Anthropology, Physics, Visual Arts, and so many other topics. Soon enough, I was placed in a class called Collage, which explored the role of collage within different art movements throughout history and gave us the opportunity to create our own pieces. That class allowed me to meet new people and learn in creative ways. Expanding your horizons by trying something totally different can help you bring original ideas to your own major.
Personally, I think choosing classes is one of the most fun parts of my quarter. It’s a time for me to plan out my major and Core classes, while exploring new and different subjects with my electives. So, when it comes time to sign up for classes, have fun with it!