Recommended Undergraduate ClassesWritten by Andrea Jussim
In your college years, you should take classes to increase both your general knowledge (breadth) and your knowledge about a particular academic field (depth). I believe that there is enough time to take many classes in both breadth and depth groups. I've been out of college for more than a decade, and I still think about classes I took and didn't take. Here, then, are my recommendations for breadth courses.
Literature, Philosophy, Language, and Linguistics. --A year of English literature courses, surveying ancient to modern literature. --One Introduction to Western Philosophy course. --One Principles of Critical Reasoning or Principles of Argumentation course (a philosophy or speech course). --A year of a foreign language, unless you are fluent in a second language. --One Introduction to Linguistics course.
Visual and Musical Arts. --One Introduction to Art History course. --One Music Appreciation course or Introduction to Musical Theory course.
Social Sciences --A year of European History or World History courses, surveying ancient to modern history, unless you've learned European History or World History well in high school. --A year of American History courses, surveying colonial to modern history, unless you've learned American History well in high school. --One East Asian History survey course. --One Introduction to American Politics course. --One introductory course in psychology, sociology, communication studies, or anthropology. --One Introduction to Economics course (or maybe a Macroeconomics course and a Microeconomics course). --One Abnormal Psychology course. --One Introduction to Statistics course.
Goals for Undergraduates: What You Should Know When You Graduate.Written by Andrea Jussim
I loved college. I majored in a subject which fascinated me, took classes I wanted to, and got great grades. When I graduated, I thought I knew everything I needed to know to succeed in big postgraduate world. I was wrong. Most of my undergraduate classes taught skills which I knew already or which came naturally to me; skills which were harder for me to master I had mostly skipped over. And what huge gaps I still have in my cultural understanding! An academic no longer, I still occasionally think about all of knowledge and skills which I missed out on, and which would have been useful in both academia and non-academic world.
Here is a laundry list of skills and knowledge that anyone with a bachelor's degree should acquire before he or she graduates.
Expository writing skills. Every college graduate should be able to write a decent essay on a non-fiction topic. The ability to communicate in written form is important not only in post-graduate study but also in almost any non-academic career if you want to rise to a high position. If writing papers is not your forte, make sure to struggle through enough college papers to know that you can (moderately) succeed at high-level writing anyway. --Relevant classes: Many literature and social science classes require papers.
Basic research skills. If you are interested in pursuing an academic or research-based career after you graduate, you need to gain some experience with serious research as an undergraduate. You shouldn't be afraid of classes which ask you to analyze and synthesize complex data, formulate a hypothesis, and write a paper proving or disproving hypothesis. If you have fears about plagiarism, creative thinking, extended critical analysis, or research paper writing, you should take a class that forces you to develope research skills you need to successfully work through these issues. Make your mistakes in undergraduate study where expectations are low, before you mess up in graduate school where expectations are ten times as high. --Relevant classes: Take advanced classes like a senior research seminar, an honors thesis class in your major, or an undergraduate research assistant position. You can also take less advanced classes outside of your field that require intensive research.
Ability to analyze information critically. This is a key skill that will stand you in good stead for rest of your life. You must be able to sort through information you read and hear to know if it is valid, factual, authoritative, matched to your needs, etc. Taking all information at face value is naive and dangerous. --Relevant classes: A critical reasoning philosophy class or critical argumentation speech class will provide some of tools for critical analysis.