A Fresh View: Preconceptions about Classes

Notebooks

Hello, Brown enthusiasts! My name is Leah Goldman, and I’ll be your socially-awkward blogger for A Fresh View for the coming year. Join me as I attempt to make my way through this slightly terrifying yet extremely exciting experience known as The First Year of College.

So classes have officially been in session for over a month now (probably more like a month and two weeks, but who’s counting?), and as I sit here writing, taking a break from my unfortunately large pile of homework, I can’t think of a more opportune time to reflect on how wrong some of my perceptions about college classes were.

Preconception #1: Everyone uses computers in class

Before coming to Brown, I imagined college classes looking like they do in all the movies: everyone sitting there with their laptops furiously taking notes as the professor talks. I probably should have known that was never going to be the case… But I definitely thought that the only way to take notes in college was on a computer.

In actuality, I only use my computer for taking notes in one of my four classes. In the other three, I’ve found it far more convenient to use a notebook, primarily because the notes often involve drawing graphs and things that are nearly impossible to make quickly on a computer. You definitely see people taking notes more often in humanities classes, where there aren’t normally graphs to draw. However, I doubt you’ll ever find a class where 100% of the students are using computers; find what works best for you and go with it!

Preconception #2: You will be constantly inundated with mountains of homework

If you tend to procrastinate, it may sometimes feel like the homework just keeps piling up. However, if you manage your time well, you’ll see that there actually isn’t as much work as you might have thought. I was expecting to spend all my extra time in the library with my nose in a textbook, but so far that hasn’t been in the case at all. I definitely spend time doing work, but I also have plenty of time to do other things. Of course, this could definitely change based on the classes I’m taking; maybe I just have an easy load this semester, and in the spring I’ll realize how true this actually is. But for now, I’m calling this false.

Preconception #3: There is no way to avoid having huge classes in your first semester

One of the things that I was terrified about before coming to Brown was that I would be stuck in massive classes and wouldn’t be able to adjust. I actually did end up in primarily larger classes, and I do wish they were a little smaller. But this doesn’t have to be an issue for you! There are classes called First Year Seminars (FYSs) that are capped at 20 students, giving them a much more personal and high school-like feel. Unfortunately, I didn’t get picked in the lottery for the course that I wanted, which is why I’m not taking a FYS. However, I do know many freshmen in FYSs, and based on their experiences I would definitely recommend it.

These are just a couple of the preconceived notions that I had before coming to Brown that turned out to be very false. If some of you readers have also been concerned about these things, hopefully you now feel slightly more at-ease! If you have any questions, comments, requests, or just feel like saying hi, feel free to email me at leah_goldman@brown.edu. Thanks for reading!

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