Explore Courses was down more than four hours before Axess even opened for enrollment. Most claim that it was due to overzealous frosh (hint: you can’t sign up for classes until orientation. Please stop bogging down the server), overzealous-er upperclassmen (please don’t judge us for indulging our need to obsessively research and meticulously plan the remaining time in our academic careers), the fact that the Stanford computing just has a general tendency to suck (Exhibit A: Old Axess. Exhibit B: New Axess) or some combination thereof. But I know the real reason. The real reason you all crashed Explore Courses is because you knew. You all knew how each and every department at Stanford completely blew their course offerings out of the water this quarter.
I’ve written this course guide for over a year now (except for last Spring – sorry for any of you who looked for it, I kind of dropped the ball. My bad.) and I have to say that each and every quarter of carefully combing through the Bulletin* leaves me freshly dumbstruck with the sheer number of delightful offerings this school continues to pump out. Seriously. Writing this thing is actually pretty excruciating. I want ten more years here. I want to major in about seventeen different things and minor in eight more. I want to take ALL THE CLASSES. But alas. I can’t. So I write this guide and hope that I can live vicariously through all you wonderful people who can collectively take them all for me. With that, I wish you a fantastic quarter full of vigorous and enlightening academic pursuits and the stress, anxiety, sleep-deprivation, loss of morale, and overall decline in physical and mental health that will inevitably accompany them. Cheers.
*The physical book that used to house the year’s course offerings back when the Marguerite was just a horse and an Apple was just a piece of fruit.
Best Named Courses
Kudos to Vivek Nair and Karthik Viswanathan for coming up with hands down the best course name of all time.
I cannot stress enough how absolutely clueless I was when attempting to pick classes for the first time. While I love my PMA for both his hospitality and eccentricity, to call him useless as an adviser would be an insult to regular useless things, like Coursework or the Chapparal. Despite my insistence that I was really interested in majors like Human Biology, Biology, and Earth Sciences (Spoiler Alert: I didn’t wind up majoring in any of them), upon my asking whether or not I should consider signing up for classes like Math or Chemistry, he essentially told me not to worry so much and to just “take the classes you feel like taking”. While gentle and well-intentioned, it wasn’t exactly the most directive advice for an overwhelmed freshman. As such, I wound up in the most random combination of classes possible, and behind track for the majors I thought I wanted to study.
I don’t want you guys to feel as helpless, lost, and overwhelmed as I did when I first scaled the behemoth that is the Explore Courses website (that said, I did admittedly wind up getting pretty good at it, as evidenced by this post). So I wanted to take this as an opportunity to first and foremost give a morsel of direction. Whether you’re clueless or your PMA is (or both), here’s a cheat sheet of some good starter classes for your first quarter here. Most of these are general enough to get you started towards a host of majors you might consider later, and – if nothing else – almost all of them fill some kind of requirement. Keep in mind that by no means must you take large, lecture-style introductory classes. You can take any undergraduate (and even many graduate classes) that you feel prepared for, no matter how small or esoteric. This is just a good collection of classes to get your wheels turning.
I took my first introsem in Spring of my sophomore year and really regret not taking more. Not to sound like the brochure, but introsems really are a great way to get a first step into Stanford academics, develop close relationships with top-notch faculty, and meet other freshman. They’re usually pretty mellow in terms of work and unit load and are more about getting you interested in the subject. I can’t think of anyone I know who ever regretted taking an introsem. Most introsems can also count toward major credit or GERs. Any class whose name ends in “N” is a freshman-preference seminar; any class that ends in “Q” is a sophomore-preference seminar. Here is a small sampling that stuck out to me while perusing the website….
* Note to Engineers and the quantitatively-inclined: If you are moderately secure in your plans to study an engineering or more scientific field, I hope you know what to take in order to keep yourself on track. But for those of you who don’t, I would consider the following: the 40 and 50 Math series are required in certain doses for most quantitative majors; the CME 100 series also is pretty ubiquitous. For those interested in Natural Science-related fields, I strongly recommend taking Chem 31A or X as soon as you can – it’s only offered in the fall, and – like the math courses above and CS106A – it checks a box for a lot of scientific majors.
For anyone who ever posted “Hey, does anyone know of any cool easy classes that fulfill *blank*?!?!?!” – hopefully this list can help answer that question.
Fulfills GER: Math :
Fulfills GER: Hum:
Fulfills GER: SocSci:
Fulfills EC: EthicReas :
Fulfills EC: Gender :
Fulfills DB: Hum, EC: GlobalCom
Fulfills DB: Hum, EC: AmerCul
Fulfills DB: Hum, EC: Gender
Fulfills DB: Hum, EC: EthicReas
Fulfills DB: SocSci, EC: Gender
Fulfills DB: SocSci, EC: GlobalCom
Around the World in
80 73* Days
So you couldn’t swing a trip to Australia, Paris, Florence, or Kyoto this quarter? Fear not! With one of these classes, you’ll spend the quarter enjoying the culture and spirit of far off places without jet-lag, weird food, a language barrier, inclement weather, or homesickness bogging down your enthusiasm.
If you spent more than five minutes on Facebook, Reddit, watching the news or reading a newspaper (LOL) this summer, you know that there’s a lot going on in the world that exists beyond Palm Drive. Sign up for one of these classes to get clued in and fired up about what’s going on out there.
Real World Knowledge
In classes like these, the question of “when am I ever going to need to know this?” will never cross your mind.
There’s a Class for That
So many classes. Too little time.