University courses impact life outside classroom


By Mackenzie Stephens, Staff Writer

Course registration has left students pondering what classes to add to their schedules as they begin enjoying winter break and approach spring semester. Although there is not much room to squeeze in courses that stray away from gen-ed, major and minor requirements, there are a number of courses that enable students to try something new and broaden their overall college experience. 

While classes focus on the academic aspect of the subject and its professional applications, many students have found that some of the University’s unique courses have left a lasting impact on their lives outside of the classroom. All it takes is a spark of interest, a leap of faith and an open mind to register for these courses that can both continue making progress toward academic success, and provide students with life skills they can implement into their everyday routines. 

Rachel Yang, junior in LAS, praised how PHIL 102: Logic and Reasoning, transformed the way she communicates and understands arguments. PHIL 102 is a course where students study the concept of logical reasoning, and practice techniques for analyzing and criticizing arguments. 

Yang said in an email that the course focuses heavily on the presence of biases, and that it helped her become more aware of her own.

The biases that we learned have impacted my decision-making experience and allowed me to think more about some of the underlying factors that have been impacting my judgment,” Yang said. She also mentioned that since the course has a manageable workload, it is easier to take time to practice what you learn on a daily basis. 

In addition to PHIL 102 transforming the way students process arguments, MACS 496: Pandemic Media, has utilized the awareness of the current pandemic to broadcast how other pandemics have been represented in the media in the past. The course covers actual pandemics such as HIV, AIDS and Polio to fiction pandemics like zombie outbreaks. Through writing and discussion, students have the freedom to seek out information on pandemics that interest them alongside assignments provided by their professor. 

Cesar Monsalud, junior in Engineering, said that after learning about previous pandemics in the course, he came to realize that COVID-19, although unprecedented in many ways, is also very similar to other pandemics that have plagued the lives of people all over the world. This realization has helped students come to terms with the way COVID-19 has changed their lives by recognizing that other people throughout the past have also had to alter their lives to keep themselves safe. The course has enabled students to see how the world has overcome situations similar to COVID-19 before, and provides comfort that our current situation will soon pass. 

Monsalud said he felt that most importantly, the class has shown him that we sometimes overlook the full extent to which pandemics impact people.

“One thing that is very interesting is about how big the world is. For us, we’re college students. But you realize that we have to consider everyone separately, that everyone is impacted differently, and how different everyone’s lives are. It seems like people have become more sympathetic, and realize that we should do more for people who are less fortunate,” Monsalud said. 

Alongside the implications of COVID-19 this past year, the amount of stress college students experience on a daily basis within their personal and academic lives can be detrimental to their mental health. Not only does the University provide resources for students to navigate their mental health with the help of professionals, but they also offer courses to help students develop mental health practices of their own. 

PSYC 340: Mindfulness Practice is a two-semester course focused on helping students master their own mindfulness practice, and making meditation a daily habit. The course is a foundation used to a community of students who work with each other to engage in mental health practices, with twice-a-week meetings with meditation partners or led by their professor. 

Nimisha Goenka, junior in LAS, said that as she went through the course, she realized its true purpose.

“It had less to do with meditation being an assignment, and more to do with how to get in the habit of having your own mindfulness practice, and how much it can help you cope with stress. It helped me cope with stress and emotional obstacles,” she said. “I can be a very impulsive person, so the class has really helped ground me and understand the perspective of what’s happening around me, led me to question what my impulses mean, my body sensations and what my thoughts and emotions are all about.”

[email protected]