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Course Advice

Spring classes start on tomorrow. What courses should you take? See our previous discussions.

1) Any tutorial. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be. There are few plausible excuses for not taking a tutorial every semester. Although many tutorials are now filled, others are not. Recommended:

PHIL 340 Spring 2017 Locke and Leibniz with Justin Shaddock. This course is, obviously, designed for students who have taken a philosophy course. But don’t let that stop you! Also, if you haven’t studied philosophy in a Williams tutorial, then you really haven’t studied philosophy.

PSCI 354 Spring 2017 Nationalism in East Asia (D) with Sam Crane, ENVI 228 – T1 (S) TUT Water as a Scarce Resource (W) with Ralph Bradburd and LEAD 355 – T1 (S) TUT American Realism (W) with James McAllister. Given the all-star teaching reputations of Sam, Ralph and James, these tutorials are almost certainly over-subscribed. But it never hurts to try. Just tell them that EphBlog sent you!

ARTH 300 Spring 2017 Rembrandt Tutorial: Case Studies of Individual Works and Controversial Issues (W) with Zirka Filipczak. Too many first years take a big intro class because they think they “should.” They shouldn’t! Even a “bad” tutorial at Williams is better than almost all intro courses. If you are a first year and you don’t take a tutorial like this, you are doing it wrong.

By the way, where can we find data about how popular tutorials are? For example, do most/all tutorials end up filled? How many students attempted to enroll in each one? More transparency!

2) STAT 201 (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with STAT 101). No topic is more helpful in starting your career, no matter your area of interest, than statistics. Students who take several statistics courses are much more likely to get the best summer internships and jobs after Williams. Also, the new Statistics major is amazing. If the professors tell you that the classes are filled, just tell them that you plan on majoring in statistics so you need to get started now.

3) CSCI 135: Diving into the Deluge of Data (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with CSCI 134). Being able to get the computer to do what you want it to do is much more important, to your future career, than most things, including, for example, the ability to write well. Taking CSCI 136 is also highly recommended. Again, if a professor tries to tell you the class is full, just claim to be future computer science major. Mendacity in the pursuit of quality classes is no vice.

4) PHIL 207 – 01 (S) SEM Philosophy of Mind (W) with Joe Cruz, former EphBlogger and all around great guy. And don’t worry about the silly prerequisites. Just tell Joe that EphBlog sent you!

Here are some thoughts from 10 years ago about course selections for a career in finance.

What courses would you recommend? What was the best class you took at Williams?

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Course Advice

Fall classes start on Thursday. What courses should you take? See our previous discussions.

1) Any tutorial. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be. There are few plausible excuses for not taking a tutorial every semester. Although many tutorials are now filled, others are not. Recommended:

MATH 102: Foundations in Quantitative Skills with Mihai Stoiciu. This course is, obviously, designed for students with a limited math background, but, if you are in that category, you would be a fool to pass up the chance to learn from one of the best professors at Williams.

PSCI 219: Women in National Politics with Joy James. Too many first years take a big intro class because they think they “should.” They shouldn’t! Even a “bad” tutorial at Williams is better than almost all intro courses.

SOC 248: Altering States: Postsoviet Paradoxes of Identity and Difference with Olga Shevchenko. It does not matter if you care about Russia. As always, choose the professor, not the class. If you are a first year and you don’t take a tutorial like this, you are doing it wrong.

By the way, where can we find data about how popular tutorials are? For example, do most/all tutorials end up filled? How many students attempted to enroll in each one? More transparency!

2) STAT 201 (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with STAT 101). No topic is more helpful in starting your career, no matter your area of interest, than statistics. Students who take several statistics courses are much more likely to get the best summer internships and jobs after Williams. Also, the new Statistics major is amazing.

3) CSCI 135: Diving into the Deluge of Data (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1300, you might start with CSCI 134). Being able to get the computer to do what you want it to do is much more important, to your future career, than most things, including, for example, the ability to write well. Taking CSCI 136 is also highly recommended.

4) PHIL 394: Topics Mind & Cognition with Joe Cruz, former EphBlogger and all around great guy. And don’t worry about the silly prerequisites. Just tell Joe that EphBlog sent you!

Here are some thoughts from 9 years ago about course selections for a career in finance.

What courses would you recommend? What was the best class you took at Williams?

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Winter Study Course Recommendations

Today is the last day for students to select a course for Winter Study. Here they are. I like this one. Which course would you recommend?

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Course Advice

Fall classes start on Thursday. What courses should you take? See our previous discussions.

1) Any tutorial. The more tutorials you take, the better your Williams education will be. There are few plausible excuses for not taking a tutorial every semester. Although many tutorials are now filled, others are not. Recommended:

ANTH 328: Emotions and the Self with Peter Just. This is available for first years. Too many first years take a big intro class because they think they “should.” They shouldn’t! Even a “bad” tutorial at Williams is better than almost all intro courses.

HIST 140: Fin-de-Siècle Russia: Cultural Splendor, Imperial Decay with Bill Wagner, former Williams president. It does not matter if you care about Russia. As always, choose the professor, not the class. If you are a first year and you don’t take a tutorial like this, you are doing it wrong.

BIOL 405: Sociobiology with Manuel Morales. Even though this course, in theory, is more junior/senior biology majors, I bet that Morales would let you in if he has space. Assuming you had a decent biology class in high school, you won’t need any other prerequisite.

2) STAT 201 (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1400, you might start with STAT 101). No topic is more helpful in starting your career, no matter your area of interest, than statistics. Students who take several statistics courses are much more likely to get the best summer internships and jobs after Williams. Also, the new Statistics major looks amazing.

3) CSCI 136 (if you enter Williams with Math/Reading SAT scores below 1400, you might start with CSCI 134). Being able to get the computer to do what you want it to do is much more important, to your future career, than most things, including, for example, the ability to write well.

4) PHIL 222: Minds, Brains, and Intelligent Behavior: An Introduction to Cognitive Science with Joe Cruz, former EphBlogger and all around great guy. And don’t worry about the silly prerequisites. Just tell Joe that EphBlog sent you!

What courses would you recommend? What was the best class you took at Williams?

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Course Advice

What classes should current students consider for the fall semester?

1) Take a tutorial! Every semester that you don’t take a tutorial at Williams is another semester that you are making a mistake. I like the looks of:

HIST 486 Fall 2009 Historical Memory of the Pacific War. Professor Eiko Maruko Siniawer ’97 is one of the best professors in the History Department.

ECON 458 Fall 2009 Economics of Risk with Professor William Gentry. Readers have song the praises of this class in the past. Alas, because there are not enough economics professors, this class is probably already full. Same is probably true of ECON 395 Fall 2009 Growth and Sustainability with Professor Ken Kuttner. If not, try to get in.

PSCI 352 Fall 2009 Comparative Political Economy. I don’t know Professor Ngonidzashe Munemo but this is a great topic. In general, I suspect that tutorials taught by enthusiastic new professors are especially good. I love that the syllabus includes work by Barrington Moore ’36.

PSCI 355 Fall 2009 Realism (W) with Professor Michael MacDonald, lead author of the Report on Varsity Athletics. MacDonald was an intense professor 20 years ago and, I have heard, is an intense professor today. Taking a tutorial with him would be the intellectual highlight of your Williams career.

ENGL 331 Fall 2009 Romantic Experiments with Professor Peter Murphy, a former Dean of the College. One of the nicest professors at Williams. This class is especially recommended for our Division III-focused readers. Expand your horizons!

More below:

UPDATE: I was hopeful that this post would generate some class suggestions from our readers. Please chime in!
Read more

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Course Advice

Diana Davis ’07 (who I hope will show us a photo tomorrow) is looking for course advice.

In addition to my thesis, here are the courses I am thinking of taking:

American Landscape History
Economic Development in Poor Countries*
Mathematical Modeling and Control Theory
Violence, Militancy, and Collective Recovery*

I have to choose between the two with asterisks, since I will only be taking one of them. Which should I choose? Opine freely, please.

Diana provides what look to be links but take me to Yahoo. My browser or her html or Williams web weirdness?

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So Many Courses

EphBlog, in its constant quest to whiningly lecture at younger Ephs, has more course suggestions.

It seems like ECON 357T The Strange Economics of College is the perfect class. Fun topic, superb instructor, and the possibility of a powerful letter of recommendation. What more do you need?

PHIL 388T(F) Consciousness also looks like fine. I have no first hand experience with Cruz as a teacher, but I would wager that he is excellent. Don’t let all that mumbo-jumbo about prerequisites fool you.

HIST 487T(F) The Second World War: Origins, Course, Outcomes, and Meaning also looks worthwhile. I have some honest differences of opinion with Professor Wood, but have heard good things about the course. Try to take as many courses as you can with professors that you disagree with. There is no better education.

If you don’t take a tutorial every year that you are at Williams — possibly every semester — you are losing out. Or you don’t belong.

First Years — at least the intellectually serious and confident among them — should sign up for a tutorial as well. There is no need to wait.

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Course Advice

Since second semester started yesterday, it might be fun to take a look at some course options.

For starters, how could you not try to get in to ECON 357T(S) The Strange Economics of College, a tutorial taught by Morty? Morty was a great teacher 16 years ago and I suspect that he has only improved with age. Of course, some allowances (only 6 students allowed and meetings with three students instead of two as in other tutorials) seem to have been made for Morty’s position as president, but these are small beer compared to the opportunity for an marvelous class.

ECON 255 Econometrics is something that anyone who as even daydreamed about graduate school in any of the social sciences should take. The course description notes:

Highly recommended for students considering graduate training in economics or public policy.

This should really read:

Failure to take this course, along with as many math and statistics courses that you can possibly stand, will result in a miserable experience in graduate school, not just for economics but for political science, sociology, public policy and most everything where numbers are ever used. Don’t believe us? Look at any recent issue of the leading journals in these fields. Also, students at Williams who double major in math are most likely to be accepted by elite graduate schools and do well there.

But maybe that’s just me.

REL 303 Reality with Mark Taylor should be a requirement for any undergraduate who thinks that she is smarter than her professors. Dropping the old REL 301 course with Taylor was the single stupidest course decision I made at Williams. Whether you think of Taylor as a prophet or a fraud, there can be no doubt that he runs his classes in an academically rigorous — some might even so old-fashioned and conservative — fashion. As with all such cool classes, you should feel free to ignore the course prerequisites. Just tell Professor Taylor that the Williams Blog sent you!

;-)

Other ancient alum are welcome to send in there advice to today’s Ephs.

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