When I finally sent in my acceptance deposit to Williams and confirmed myself as a member of the next freshman class, I was pretty anxious, which lead to feelings of ambivalence about the sorts of things others around me were excited about–dorms, friends, clubs, all that. I wasn’t sure Williams was the right place for me, but it was the best option I had, so I’d picked it; that didn’t mean I was thrilled.

But over that summer before I started at Williams, there was one thing in that sea of anxiety and ambivalence and maybe even dread that made me excited, one thing that had me actively looking forward and thinking maybe I’d be happy at this place:

Looking through the course catalog.

Every semester thereafter, looking through the course catalog continued to be a joy. I think part of me loved the idea of taking some of these classes much more than actually taking them, and always has. I’d make long spreadsheets with all the classes I was interested in, put together potential schedules, agonize over which ones I wouldn’t be able to take. Later in each semester, that joy and wonder would have dulled significantly as I got through the reality of actually doing the work, actually showing up to classes–that, I wasn’t always good at. But every time the course catalog came out, I’d be overjoyed once again at the sheer possibility it represented, all the journeys it could take me on.

It’s amusing to me, but not altogether unexpected, that even now–when I was putting together my last post about Intro to CS, which involved looking through the 2020 course catalog–I still find myself gushing over courses, falling in love with them. Picking classes is one of the things I miss most about Williams.

So, I’m curious! When you look through the course catalog, what course(s) most excite you, fill you with that yearning to sign up for a class? (If you’re a current student: aside from maybe the class you’re most excited to take that you did sign up for, what’s the class you were most excited about that you didn’t sign up for?)

For me, it might be PHIL 239, The Ethics of AI. Ethical AI is such a cool topic to me, something I thought I might want to make a career when I was in school and, heck, something I still think I might want to pursue. But I always was so much more interested in it in a philosophical sense than in the technical sense, so the fact that there’s an actual philosophy class being offered about this is really exciting to me. And Joseph Cruz is an excellent teacher (difficult, but great)–I might even email him and ask for the reading list.

But I also really regret never having taken a creative writing course at Williams. So along with the standard intro to fiction writing courses, I’m intrigued by ENGL 288, Writing as Experiment: An Introductory Poetry Lab. The course description sounds like something that would really challenge and excite me, and the professor, Franny Choi, is new to the English department and sounds so cool. She’s done a lot of work in poetry with themes of social activism, Asian American identity, and science fiction, and I’d love to learn about poetry from her.


How about you?

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