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My Favorite Classes From Freshman Year at UT Austin

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

I know firsthand that course registration can be absolutely terrifying. During my summer orientation, I quite literally sobbed on a Zoom call with my advisor due to all of the classes I previously chose being completely full less than a minute in. However, I am a firm believer that REGISTRATION DOES NOT NEED TO BE SCARY! There are so many hidden gem classes that magically stay open long enough to snag them. I have quickly become efficient at registering because I’ve learned how to look for the right classes (I have no Friday classes, no classes before 10 am, and have maintained a 4.0 GPA). I may not be your advisor, but I will offer up some registration inspiration based on the classes I had the best experiences with this year.

ANT 301: Biological Anthropology

I took this class to fulfill one of my Science/Technology credits and it just may have been one of the best decisions I made with my schedule. Dr. Liza Shapiro is extremely passionate about monkeys, and somehow by the end of the class, I was too. This course takes you on a journey from differentiating different types of primates and analyzing their anatomies to the discovery of early humans and how they evolved into who we are now. My favorite part of this class is that Dr. Shapiro never takes herself too seriously but is so incredibly dedicated to her work. Not only that, but I found it extremely interesting to understand our beginnings and how we transformed from tiny little apes like “Lucy” to complex bipeds.

My TA, Claire, also happened to be one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and she made coming to a 4:30-6:30 pm lab every week more enjoyable than not. Her cute and clever little games helped me grasp the content in a unique but effective way. There are no tests in this class, just weekly open-note quizzes and lab assignments that your TA will help you navigate.

E 314L: Banned Books and Novel Ideas

I took my fair share of English classes in high school, but this English class was on a whole other level. Don’t walk in expecting a repeat of AP English Lit! Dr. Adams primarily focuses on texts that have been banned on some level for being subversive. These books are so incredibly important and you’ve likely either never heard of them or never engaged with them because of their content being deemed “inappropriate” for a school setting. All themes are fair game here and it introduced a new layer of complexity to my understanding of literature. It also calls into question why they’ve been banned in the first place and how we can bring light to the important issues they cover. The class is almost completely discussion based and obviously reading-heavy, but it’s incredibly worth it to actually dive into the texts and hear other people’s perspectives on them.

UGS 303: America Through Baseball

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, this course is a blast. Dr. Butterworth just might be my favorite professor because of how engaging his lectures are (and his initials are MLB, how fitting). This class goes through the history of baseball and how it fits into American history, specifically how it reflects American culture and how it became “America’s pastime”. I didn’t know a lot about the sport going in except that the Texas Rangers were laughably bad recently, but it’s easy to catch up and follow along with how baseball has developed and how important it can be as a representation of America itself.

Quinn Ewers himself even made it through this class.

SOC 307T: Punishment and Society

This class is definitely not a feel-good class, but it will make you think so hard that you feel like your brain will explode (in a good way). A former lawyer, Professor Upasana Garnaik is young, funny, and relatable. She very clearly knows her stuff and presents it in an interesting way, putting the focus on understanding concepts rather than memorization. This course might make you question everything you thought you knew about the American prison system, though. I think it’s incredibly important to learn the history behind imprisonment, especially through Ava Duvernay’s documentary, 13th, describing the loophole that allowed former slaves to be forced back into legal slavery via imprisonment. Long discussions about deviance, surveillance, and immigration will have you wondering deeply why our society functions the way it does. Maybe it will even inspire you to make a difference somehow!

HIS 315G: Intro to American Studies

Dr. Cordova is an expert at perfectly blending the type of history you’re used to learning in school and the history of music and pop culture. From the origins of jazz to Beyoncé, she is sure to play some incredible music in class while also discussing important shifts throughout history. It becomes incredibly clear that the history of minorities is deeply interwoven with music and pop culture, and this class does a great job of highlighting and celebrating that connection. When she plays songs in class (which she does in almost every single lecture, if not multiple times in each), it’s hard not to jam out sometimes.

Hey y'all, I'm Hailey and I'm a first-year government major at UT Austin! I'm originally from Fort Worth, TX and I'm super passionate about TV, movies, sports, and pop culture. In my free time, I'm probably either playing tennis/pickleball, trying new food around Austin, watching a new show, hanging with my sorority sisters, or scrolling through TikTok.