Without a doubt, one of the best things about getting an education at Boston College is the variety of courses. Most classes here sound more like the title of a weirdly specific documentary than a class you’ll spend an entire semester attending. I mean, where else can you take a political science course entitled “Shakespeare’s Politics,” or a creative writing class dedicated entirely to writing about the food of France? Since class registration is coming up once again, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to talk about some of my favorite classes I’ve taken at BC and some I think that freshmen and sophomores could benefit from trying out.
Do you have the courage to know? Time to find out! For freshmen, I can’t recommend this course enough. I took Courage to Know with Elizabeth Bracher (but we all call her Biz), and my experience was very formative in helping me figure out what I was doing with my freshman year at BC and where I wanted to go from there. The course is split into categories of issues that college students face, including hook-up culture, drinking, gender, race, and family. Within these categories, you’ll read genuinely good novels that are easy to breeze through and actually enjoyable to discuss in class. Biz shaped her course around human development and how it all plays into who we allow ourselves to become in our college years. This really helps her students reflect on themselves and decide what exactly they want going forward. If you take this course, don’t be surprised if you wind up changing your major, dumping (or getting) a boy/girlfriend, or making midnight calls to your parents to talk about your childhood—it all just comes with the territory. Of course, there’s also the infamous date assignment, but I promise it’s not really that bad. It helps that CTK professors are known for becoming pseudo-advisors to their students for the entirety of their time at BC, and if you’re looking for some guidance I would 10/10 recommend this course.
Of course, CTK isn’t the only BC specific class that you shouldn’t miss out on.
We’ve all heard of PULSE. Maybe you had a sibling or parent who went to BC and raved about this service/class program. Maybe your orientation leader or RA took it, and it’s the first thing they recommend when you say you have no idea what you want to do with your life. Maybe you saw that huge “PULSE Lottery” sign outside Bapst during freshman orientation and had no idea what it was, but you had a sudden urge to put your name down. However you came to know about this BC-esque program, I can guarantee that, unless you’ve taken it, you don’t fully understand the depth of what the program can do for you. In PULSE, you are put in a class that you will be in all year, and the course is a blend of theology and philosophy that’s surprisingly not nearly as boring as it sounds. In addition to coursework, you’re required to commit to 12 hours of community service a week at a placement that you’ll choose at the beginning of the school year. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but the best thing about PULSE is that you not only have a class you’ll get to spend the whole year getting to know, but the course is focused on the applications of theology and philosophy rather than just the history of it. It’s a small distinction, but it makes all the difference. PULSE teaches you a lot about the city of Boston, philosophers and how they work in conversations with theologists, and, most of all, a lot about yourself.
I know that for some people, self-reflection isn’t their thing. While I would argue that these classes will make it your thing, I do have a few other recommendations for you readers to try out to get the most of your time here at BC. For freshmen, give those enduring questions and complex problems courses a try. Last year I took Global Implications of Climate Change and History and Politics of Terrorism, and the dynamic that comes about from studying two disciplines side by side on one issue is fascinating and will teach you a lot about the current state of the world. These courses also introduce you to two experts with very different perspectives, and they’re worth taking even just to watch the professors argue. This year, they’re offering similarly structured courses on everything from the legacy of Disney to coming of age in film and literature, so I would check these out and see if they fit in your schedule.
BC has so many amazing courses that you’ll probably never have the chance to study in depth again, so before you just sign up for basic core courses or major requirements I urge you to check out some of the more out-there classes and try them out. Who knows, you may find a new passion.
Featured Graphic by Anna Tierney / Graphics Editor