Title: Last semester: Breakdown
Posted: December 18, 2009 (07:22 PM)
Well, I finally got my grades, and at least two of them were better than I expected. The rest I either fully expected or grew to expect out of later performances during the semester. Anyway, I got all As again... with two A-s, but those are about the same thing anyway (although an A- is marked lower than a regular A for some reason). So I guess that should shut me up. I fully expect EmP to say "I told you so" in big bold pretty colors.
But... to put it in perspective, I'll break it down by course.
HIST 299: Junior Colloquium:
This was a very challenging course that required me to write three 5-7 page papers based on the primary and secondary sources we had been reading in that class. Basically we had to write a "synthesis" of that particular topic's reading materials (of which there were three topics during the semester, with several readings to choose from) and make the best argument for that topic based on the material. The professor wasn't looking for any "right" or "wrong" asnwers - he wouldn't be a good professor otherwise - but rather to see if we could make good historical arguments through condensing large quantities of material. The most challenging aspect of the course was the insane amount of reading I had to do each week. Since the class met only once a week, there was a lot of stuff... between 50-100 pages (sometimes more) a week. And he gave these short ten point quizzes over the reading, so we couldn't blow it off. Though I am glad for that since it made it easier to write the papers.
This class was an A, which was expected.
HIST 300D: Topics in U.S. History:
Although it was a general topics course, which I generally don't like as a concept, I knew what this one was being taught about and it was also taught by perhaps my most favorite professor at the school. The course itself focused on the Age of Piracy between 1550 and 1725, and also focused on anti-impressment riots and other protest / revolutionary movements later in the 18th century. It was a very in-depth course that required a lot of conceptual understandings... The professor made sure to teach it from a different perspective than the typical "heroic" or "romantic" perspectives you hear about in grade school or on TV. Indeed, I think breaking away from a national perspective - American, British or otherwise - is probably the best way to learn history because it breaks any sort of nationalistic barriers that might create biases towards the evidence and people acting during a time. Instead, what we got was raw, pure history; the kind of history that makes you think, and it was truly an amazing class for that. I probably learned more from this class than any other despite the area being so focused. Not only did I learn about the subject matter at hand, but I also learned more methodological practices such as how to truly incorporate evidence into a history paper or essay as well as properly examining primary and secondary source material. The research paper was tough and challenging, but enjoyable because I just found it absolutely fascinating to read through old primary sources. I suppose that sounds nerdy, haha, but there you go. I think it's cool.
Anyway, because it was so challenging, I realy expected anything in that class from a C+ to an A-, and this was the class I was most anxious about from before. Indeed, my past performances in that class led me to believe I'd receive a grade lower than I'd like because of the fact that on the first two tests, I'd gotten a 78 and 80 respectively. And although I rewrote the first exam for a better grade, he still hadn't graded it any time I'd asked him about it. Also, I have no idea how I did on my paper or final since those we're not supposed to get back until January (they'll be outside his office when we get back (though he keeps them in his office for storage during break)). So that's why I was so anxious - because the first two things I'd done poorly on... and that was like half my grade right there.
Anyway, the final grade turned out to be an A- which is a lot better than I was expecting... (even though it was in that "potential grade" range). I suppose I must have rocked the paper andfinal (plus participation points) to get that grade or something, but I won't kno for sure until next semester.
PLSC 101: American Politics:
I took this class because I'm considering a triple major in political science - or at the very least a minor - to which it's required. Took this with a grad student as an instructor (though I didn't know that when I signed). The class was interesting but very easy, so I really did fully expect the A I got in that class, even though I was just a little bit nervous about the paper and final exam since he didn't (and won't) give them back to us. However, he did let us e-mail him requesting our grades, so I did that and got As on both, unsurprisingly.
PLSC 100: Political Theory:
Like the last course, I took it for a political science requirement. I also took it to fill part of the philosophy core. I also took this with a grad student instructing but didn't know about that until signing up. This class was even easier than the last one, but it still turned out to be interesting, which is good because I truly thought it would be dull as hell with the teachr's teaching style. She basically just read notes at us all period, but I think she caught on after a while, or maybe I adjusted, because she started letting us discuss some of the things we were covering, which made things a lot more interesting. Anyway, I really do respect her outside of any first impressions of her because she really did consider our opinions about her class and consider changes as she saw fit. I respect that a lot and wish more professors / teachers would be more proactive about that sort of thing, or at least appear to be instead of waiting for the course evaluations at the end of the semester. Anyway, I fully expected the A in this class, too, since I got 100 on both papers and 98 on both exams (midterm and fial). I pwned that class and therefore am totally awesome.
PHIL 182: Social & Political Philosophy:
This was a night class, once a week for two and a half hours. I promise you I'm never doing that again. If I can help it. Though I've said such things before. Anyway, the class itself was boring (more or less) and rather depressing since the kind of social/political philosophy we focused on dealt with war. Originally expected a B in this class because I got a 78 on the first exam and calculated that I'd need a 93 on everything else just to get an A-. Fortunately, I did get a 93 (sometimes more!) on everything else, and also did the two extra credit opportunities, which really helped my grade and made me feel more secure about the full A I was expecting towards the middle / end of the semester.
SPAN 251: Advanced Spanish Composition and Conversation II:
I hated this class with a glowing passion, but only because I felt my professor was the most incompetent professor I've ever had during my entire education. The concept of the class itelf was fine - I totally don't mind writing and speaking a lot in a Spanish class, especially not in an advanced one where teh whole point is to hone (or at least maintain) those skills. I found that as a concept, the class was effective, but I just did not like teh professor because she really did seem scattered, and the crap she pulled towards the end of the semester with my group's presentation really pissed me off. Anyway, I fully expected a B in this class because I'd been getting a B all semester, since my original quiz and writing performances weren't that great. That I pulled an A- is amazing, and looking at my grade breakdown, I saw that I really only just scraped the A- by like .89 percentage points.
Overall, this seemster was very challenging and very stressing, but I'm relieved that I managed to do as well - even better - than expected. I'm also glad I managed to learn a lot more than I probably usually do, especially with the history classes, which, as they get harder also seem to get more rewarding, which is nice. Even so, I think a major contributor to my stress and worry was the general course load. Six classes is probably too much... but at least I handled it well enough. Granted, I have to do it again next semester... and next semester they're almost all 300 level classes (except for one that's 299, but it's close enough). So we'll see how that goes, I guess. I expect it to be much more difficult than this semester, but... I'm also not taking as many once-a-week classes, either, so maybe things'll even out despite the intense ramping up of upper level classes. But, well, as long as I don't explode, I guess I'll be fine, haha. Still, I think it's safe to say I'll be busier than ever next semester which will make me very sad, but we'll see how things go.
Posted: December 19, 2009 (12:49 PM)
That's a lot of classes.
Posted: December 19, 2009 (12:54 PM)
Glad everything turned out well! Although this makes your nightmares a bit less exciting.
Posted: December 19, 2009 (04:51 PM)
EmP being right has long simply been a given.
Posted: December 20, 2009 (05:17 PM)
maybe I'll do one of these too. nerdy math classes: As. class that normal people would take: B-.
Posted: December 20, 2009 (06:33 PM)
Congratulations on the strong grades and working through all the pressure! All A's = something to be happy with.
Posted: December 25, 2009 (04:08 PM)
Thanks guys. I'm just glad it's done now, though; it was a lot of work. Can't wait to see what next semester will be like...