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Four Classes You Should Take As a Freshman

I’ll be real, I unfortunately only retained the unimportant and unintended lessons of my freshman orientation, including that Red Square can get slippery, no one gets to take a good Husky card ID photo, and the Drumheller Fountain geese hold the most authority on campus. When it came to what was important to start my college path, however, I didn’t have the slightest idea of what credits I should’ve been taking, what the Areas of Knowledge were, or really, any concept of what classes would be best for me to get a solid start on the first of my four years in the vast UW universe. If you’re a freshman who was just as confused as I was (and believe me, I’ve been there) and could benefit from some wisdom about what specific classes or credits you should invest in when you register, I’ve got you covered—here are four classes you should consider taking for winter or spring quarter 2022 for your next step in the path to becoming a proud Husky alumni. 

1. Take an English composition class. 

I understand if you read that statement with skepticism, but hear me out—although English composition may not be the most exciting way to earn a significant portion of credits for 10 weeks, and it may bring back painful memories of AP Lang or Lit from high school, it’s more useful than you might think. Luckily for me, I stumbled into a random first-year interest group with an English 131 component included during my first quarter at UW, which proved to be a valuable asset later on. Most, if not all majors (including the several I considered at one point or another), require an English composition class, whether that be 131 or a similar variation, so having this one under your belt can put you further ahead before you can ever fall behind. Plus, the professors are often grad students, like mine, making them easy-going to talk to as they can easily relate to the undergraduate experience. 

2. Invest in a psychology class. 

The study of the human mind has often been stigmatized today as being the typical freshman class, but honestly, it’s for good reason. Introduction to Psychology, or Psych 101, is often rumored to be the most popularly taken class at UW, taking up a memorable chunk of many people’s I&S (Individuals & Societies) credits at some point before they graduate. Although you may not have a profound interest in psychology, I’m a firm believer that everyone can find something fascinating in the course material, and even if it still isn’t your cup of tea, the mechanics of how and why individuals make both conscious and unconscious decisions is information that can be invaluable in any career field. Psych 101 is a great option for a complete newbie to psychology, or, if you’re looking for an exceptional diversity credit within the field, The Diversity of the Human Sexuality, or Psych 210, is a must (see my article on the class here).

3. Allow yourself to take just one (or more) fun VLPA classes.

It can be easy at a school like UW to immediately stack up the prerequisites for the major you think you’ll end up in, but at a school that offers more than 6,000 undergraduate courses, you deserve the freedom to explore a little. VLPA credits (Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts) are the hardest classes to knock off the checklist for many students who don’t know where to begin, but don’t be discouraged—there’s something for everyone to explore, and, before you get locked down into your major with less wiggle room, use these credits as an opportunity to explore your secret interests in an academic setting. I personally fell in love with art history this way, and even though it doesn’t relate to my major in the slightest, it unexpectedly became one of my favorite classes yet. 

4. Don’t be deterred by the upper-level classes. 

While this isn’t a specific course you should consider taking as a freshman, it’s a piece of advice I wish I had received as a timid 18-year-old with no clear objective of my goals for registration. Intro classes, such as 100- or 200-level, are great opportunities to map into your course plan, especially if you have a beginning interest in a general academic area, but don’t be afraid to explore some 300- or 400-level gems as an underclassman—there’s a lot of cool coursework out there that only requires dedication and passion to succeed in. My two favorites in this category that I took as a freshman and sophomore were EDPSY 302, Child Development and Learning, and LSJ 321, Human Rights Law in Culture and Practice. After all, learning about the crucial issues of our world today shouldn’t have an age limit.

Hailey Hummel

Washington '23

Hailey is a current junior at the University of Washington, majoring in Public Health—Global Health and minoring in Law, Societies, and Justice. She loves hiking, traveling around the state of Washington and the world, making art, playing piano, taking pictures, and spending time with her friends.
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