Thoughts on sophomore year

You just finished a year in which some 65% of what you read and wrote was what we directed you to read and write. Herewith, stemming from our experience as sophomore faculty advisors to many former DS students, some unsolicited, unofficial thoughts on post-DS course selection.

We hear from many DS students that by the end of freshman year, they have a pretty good idea of what subjects they are interested in pursuing more deeply. Regardless of having taken DS or not, sophomore year is when students begin to close in on a potential major. If you plan to choose between, say, English and History, or Economics and Political Science, you will want to make sure to take courses in each discipline to determine which intellectual approach is the best fit for you. It is also a good idea if some of these courses fulfill pre-requisites for upper level courses in the major. If you are intending to major in one of the STEM fields, you will want to make sure to begin the necessary sequences of courses that your major requires (and you may have begun such a sequence already last year).

Some thoughts to keep in mind while choosing courses for sophomore year:

Prepare for meeting with your faculty advisor and/or departmental DUS. Have a reasonable schedule mapped out. Resist trying to “shop” 35 or even 15 courses.

•What DS students miss most sophomore year: the intense intellectual engagement of DS seminar discussions. Try to include at least one seminar-type course in your schedule. Be aware that sophomores will not have priority for being admitted to oversubscribed seminars. Instead of “shopping” very popular seminars, seek out some of the wonderful  courses at Yale that run below the radar. This requires research, which takes time. Consider whom you trust for advice, among peers and faculty.

•Want more classes that take an interdisciplinary approach to the fundamental human questions? Check out the offerings in the Humanities Major.

•Consider taking one of the expository writing courses offered in the English department: ENGL 114, ENGL 115, ENGL 120, or ENGL 121. Yes, we know: by completing DS you’ve satisfied your WR requirements. But your writing will benefit immeasurably from taking a course dedicated to writing taught by an instructor dedicated to teaching writing.

•Want a DS-type class about a non-Western tradition? Consider courses exploring primary texts from a different tradition, such as “The Chinese Tradition” (in East Asian Languages and Literatures).