Looking back on my undergrad: My favorite classes and what I learned

By Taylor

As I embark on my last semester of university, I love to look back on the multitude of classes I’ve taken over the past five years. And so far, these are the classes that I am especially glad I had the opportunity to take and learn what I learned! So, if you’re looking for a fun elective to take I would definitely recommend trying one of these!

DINO 101 (PALEO 200): Intro to Dinosaurs in the Fossil Record

Anyone who knows me knows I have an unhealthy obsession with I even had a dinosaur-themed birthday party when I turned eighteen. So it was only appropriate that this was the first course I enrolled in during my first year of university.

DINO101 is exactly what it sounds like. The course offers you a full understanding of everything that happened during that magical time when dinosaurs walked the Earth. I especially like this course because it was an online course taught through video modules and interactive discussion, so it’s super easy to fit into your schedule and you can work on it at your own pace! Definitely a plus if you have a super busy schedule. Just be sure to keep on it or else you’ll fall behind!

MUSIC 103: Introduction to Popular Music

This was probably the most fun course I’ve ever taken. For any music lover — or even someone who just likes occasionally listening to the radio — this course is a great pick. The lectures cover everything musical from the early 20’s to present-day! From The Beatles to Lil’ Mama, you’ll learn all there is to know about popular music. Plus the assignments and projects in this class really let you express your creativity with the use of music.

WRS 101: Exploring Writing

This was the course that finally made me realize my love for writing. I always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until this course that I was given the freedom and time to truly explore my prose. This course offered the chance to write short little creative passages every single class without any pressure or judgement, which is a great way to learn to write without feeling like every word needs to be perfect. This class also encouraged my classmates and I to try out a bunch of super fun writing techniques — which I have since found to be very helpful!

Fun fact: I won an award for one of the papers I wrote in this class and it was exactly what I needed to give me that boost of confidence in my writing skills.

ANTHRO 207: Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology

Before I took this class, I was very naïve in my understanding of other cultures and how they differ from my own. I found this class was super enlightening and helped me learn more about how other societies function. This was one of the few classes I took because it was something I genuinely wanted to learn about. I didn’t take it because it was required, or a prerequisite or because it was an easy A; I took it because it seemed interesting and like it could help me round out my perspective as a global citizen. That’s definitely something I wish I had been able to take more of during my undergrad: classes that just seem interesting and can broaden my knowledge of the world.

SMO 405: Gender Issues in Organizations

I love all of the other classes mentioned above, but this was definitely my #1 favorite. This class changed my outlook on so many different things and I still find myself referencing what I learned in this class. This course focuses on gender issues (in particular, women’s issues) in the workplace. It dives in to gender inequality, pay gaps, cultural differences and harassment and definitely made me rethink everything I knew about how genders differed in the modern-day workplace. Almost every student in this class was female except for one, so I strongly recommend that more males take this class because gender issues are something that definitely affects us all.

ACCTG 426: Management Control Systems

I actually wrote a YouAlberta blog post about this class because it turned out to be so incredibly rewarding. It’s a tough class, but don’t allow yourself to be intimidated. It’s a case based discussion style lecture, meaning the prof allows you and your fellow classmates to lead the discussion and essentially, learn through the thoughts and ideas of your peers. There’s no taking notes or listening to your prof’s lectures, which is extremely unheard of in an accounting course. But I loved the style of this class and I believe I got way more out of it than a traditional lecture-style class (where I admit to occasionally zoning out and losing interest).

Looking back on my undergrad, I am so happy to have taken all of the courses I have. Although not all have been relevant to my degree, they have definitely all contributed to my learning and growing-up. After five years of university, I can definitely say that all of the time, money, and studying has been worth it. I’ve genuinely enjoyed (most) of what I’ve been taught and I know it will all come in handy once I’m out in the real world during my future career. I look back fondly on the six classes I mentioned above (as well as the other classes I took throughout my undergrad) and marvel at how much they informed me. It’s super surprising how many classes the University of Alberta offers and how obscure and unique many of them might seem. I definitely recommend all of you to take at least one class that you would have never thought of taking just because it interests you greatly! You’ll be happy about your choice, I guarantee.