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Miscellaneous Homework 2: Course Planning

Summary: In this exercise, you will answer a number of questions and take notes about possible courses for the next semester and beyond.

Purpose: To get you think about course planning, both the particulars and the process.

Due: 8:15 a.m., Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Course planning at Grinnell is sometimes a more complex task than you might expect. In part, this complexity is due to different departments' perspectives on how one should progress through a major. In part, this complexity is due to a variety of prerequisite structures. In part, this complexity is due to the wide variety of courses we make available. In part, this complexity is due to the limitations in numbers of sections we can offer at a College of Grinnell's size.

Thinking Broadly

1. Talk to three upper-level students. From each, obtain a list of the two courses they would most recommend to others. Be sure to understand why they would recommend those courses. Be prepared to share these recommendations with your Tutorial colleagues.

2. Pick between two and four potential majors that you might choose at Grinnell.

3. For one of those majors, map out a four-year plan that ensures that you meet all of the requirements of the major.

4. Pick three upper-level (200-level and above) courses you'd like to take before you graduate from Grinnell. I'd prefer that you pick one from each division. For example, you might pick CSC205, Computational Linguistics, from Computer Science, ENG204, The Craft of Argument, from English, and ECN338, Applied Game Theory, from Economics.

5. Determine how you will meet the prerequisites for those courses. For example, in order to take Computational Linguistics (an alternate-year course) in fall of your second year, you'll need to take LIN114 and CSC151 before the course is offered. In this particular case, you should think about taking both courses this spring.

Thinking About Fall 2007

6. Pick one language course that you would like to take this semester. (I recommend that students continue their study of foreign language in their first semester, since we often forget other languages quickly. If students have not previously studied other languages or would like to learn a new language, I consider that an appropriate alternate, but also recommend starting that learning early in your career so that you have time to explore the language sufficiently.)

7. Pick one mathematics course that you would like to take this semester. (I recommend that students continue their study of Mathematics in their first semester, since we often forget mathematical methods quickly. The math curriculum is also designed for people to start in the fall. Many majors benefit from mathematical knowledge.)

8. Pick three other courses that you would like to take this semester.

9. Create a sample schedule that has the language course, the mathematics course, and one of the other courses. If you really prefer not to take math or a language, your sample schedule need not include that course. However, you will need to write a one-paragraph rationale for the exception.

10. Prepare at least one alternative schedule, in case you don't get your first choices. (Math and language tend to take all comers, so the primary course to worry about is the open course. Of course, math and language may also ask you to take courses in different times than you prefer.)

Thinking Broadly, Revisited

11. Assume that you get all the courses you indicated in part 9. Sketch a plan of courses for next semester and fall 2008, giving you a three-semester prospective plan. In this plan, you should list four courses for each semester. You should make sure that you take the introductory course for each prospective major somewhere in these first three semesters. You should also try to meet each of Grinnell's Elements of the Liberal Arts within this time frame. If you can't meet all of these requirements, that's okay; just do the best you can.

You can find Grinnell's Elements of the Liberal Arts on pages 13 through 15 of Grinnell College: 2007-2009 Academic Catalog.



Sunday, 24 August 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Thursday, 18 August 2005 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Friday, 25 July 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Thursday, 16 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Friday, 24 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]


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Samuel A. Rebelsky, rebelsky@grinnell.edu