Whether you’re new to Gallatin or not, navigating the waters of your self-built concentration never becomes less tricky. Yes, you really can do whatever you want with your education when you come to Gallatin, but that doesn’t mean your time spent in college shouldn’t have at least some sense of structure. Here’s what you need to know before you embark on your journey that is ~scheduling freedom~ and all things Gallatin.
1. Don’t be afraid to have diverse interests.
A lot of people joke that Gallatin degrees are worthless because you can take something silly like The Science of Happiness and call it a concentration, but when executed right, Gallatin degrees can be just as valuable as traditional double (or triple) majors. I went into Gallatin wanting to study journalism and only journalism, but then I found a way to connect my interest in medicine and health with a minor in nutrition. While this may sound like an arbitrary connection, both work seamlessly to allow me authority as a writer to discuss nutrition and health care issues. If you have two interests that don’t necessarily go hand and hand together, your time at Gallatin will allow you to find ways to make them work together.
2. Use your Interdisciplinary Seminars to prepare for your colloquium.
I wish someone had told me this advice sooner: all those hefty readings from your IDSEMs work as great additions to your booklist, but only if you happen to take classes that fit with your colloquium topic. If you plan to do your colloquium on feminism, take IDSEMs on feminism. If you plan to do it on media, take ones on media, and so on. All the novels you read for these classes will lighten the load of building your booklist down the line.
3. Try out classes from a range of schools.
Don’t rule out schools like Stern and Steinhardt because your concentration is cut and dry enough to fit under CAS. Many of the marketing classes in Stern and many of the media and food studies classes in Steinhardt relate well to CAS classes, and they may approach your concentration from a more unique angle than your regular classes. As someone who heavily studied magazine journalism while in Gallatin, I benefited greatly from a business class on publishing in Stern.
4. …But don’t take too long to decide what you want to focus on.
The trap of Gallatin is that you have so many classes to take, and not enough time to do it. Don’t spend more than a year dillydallying with wide range of classes with no direction in mind, otherwise you’ll hit junior year and have no idea what you want to write your IAPC on. Figure out what you want to do early on, and stick with it.
5. Take all the core classes for your concentration as if it were a major.
This is a big one if you want future employers to take your degree seriously. If you want to tell people you studied “marketing” in college, you need to have the skill set to show it. The best way to get those skills is to take all the same required classes that a marketing major would take, rather than skipping them “because you can.” I know it’s painstaking and tedious, but trust me on this.
6. Take the IAPC and Rationale seriously, and use them to pick your classes.
Although these might seem like another task to check off your list towards graduation, they can be extremely helpful for building a framework for your degree. When shopping around for classes, read each course description carefully. If it doesn’t sound resonant of your IAPC (or Rationale), don’t take it.
7. Use Advanced Writing and Arts Workshops to gain new skills.
These classes can be used as fun electives, but they can also do exactly what they promise: to make sure you leave with more skills to put on your resume. Even if you’re not interested in say, graphic design or writing personal essays, your future employers will be impressed that you have unique talents to offer when needed. That one semester you spent building a mock magazine in InDesign could prove helpful when your boss asks if anyone can make a flyer for the next company promotion.
8. Talk to seniors for advice about the colloquium.
Let’s face it: advisors don’t have the time to hold your hand through the process. Find a senior who’s completed their colloquium you feel comfortable talking to, and ask them for advice about any unanswered questions the Gallatin website failed to mention. They’ll tell you random things – like to come prepared with a lamented binder or snacks for your panel – or more specific things, like how much each category of your booklist actually matters. Don’t fly solo when it comes to the colloquium – there is way too much information for you to sort on your own!
9. Build connections with your professors, so when your colloquium rolls around, you’ll feel comfortable asking them to join your panel.
This is self-explanatory, but you’ll thank yourself later when you’re not awkwardly scrambling to convince that one Anthropology professor from freshman year to sit for your colloquium, even though you only talked to him for a total of two times the semester you had him.
10. Take at least one fun Gallatin class before you graduate.
Even if that hip-hop dance class has nothing to with your concentration, you deserve a break at least once a semester. Gallatin has so many interesting courses, it’d be a shame to leave without having tried one.
Happy registration, Gallatin-nites!