A junior at Yale named "Nick," who lives in the Residential College Timothy Dwight, sent around an email this week to a bunch of Yalies with some course descriptions. It's a helpful guide to anyone looking to coast his or her way through that fine school in New Haven; it's also useful simply as a reminder of How the World Works (connections, and gaming the system). Also worth noting: Even if you're going to be an investment banker, taking Macroeconomics is never a good idea. The full email—extremely long, extremely worth it—follows.
Below is the Fall 2007 Installment of my Semi-Annual Yale University Gut Course Review. Hopefully, all of us will be on the same page so we won't have to worry about having section with all those randos we have never met who talk funny. I mean, don't you feel good when you show up to class on day one and you see a lot of baseball caps and blue and gray warmups. I know I do. I know I am home - at Yale, trying with all my might to not overexert myself. So here's to us, the proud students of Yale who really rather not take 5 really "challenging but worth it classes". That shit is way overrated. But seriously, don't hold me to any of my advice below. I've screwed up grades in gut classes and you probably will too. But hey, Its a "learning experience" - and that is what college is about right?
new york mambo: black creativity - Granted most of you will probably feel like a semi fraud showing up to an african american studies class simply because it is a gut, but this is really a good looking one. I mean, we all take "porn in the morn" a womens and gender studies class for an A, so why not do an AFAM studies class too? Regardless, the professor's speech is pretty much unintelligible so don't worry about taking notes. A real diamond in the rough gut course...
anthro (the best gut major):
intro to biological anthro - So at Yale it seems like there are about 50 classes that all are about that whole apes becoming people thing, and once you have taken one, you can pretty much ace all of them without ever showing up again... I will spoil the whole thing: when monkeys came down from trees to walk on land and they started walking upright, their brains got bigger, and they got less hairy. No gay republican senator or dogfighting conspiracy was even involved, I swear. You cannot find an easier 2 day a week science course.
modes of thought - This is a classic case of "this class's name sounds so absolutely nebulous and idiotic that it must be a gut". Surprisingly, it is actually a complete joke, receiving some of the strongest "you will learn nothing and get an A" comments that you can find on the eval system. Pretty ideal?
great discoveries in archeology aka "g-disco" - This gut course is one that reaches that critical mass of people knowing about it that it gets to that "uhh, these were the same 150 people at wednesday night toads" level. You will again learn all about apes and shit before learning less about random ancient ruins than you would by watching Shia LeBoeuf in Indiana Jones IV. This may be my personal favorite gut class experience of my Yale career.
planets and stars - Generally speaking everyone has been wasted at some point and stared blankly at the sky and been like, shit, space and shit is sweet. And then you get to Yale and you find out that you can take astronomy to meet requirements and that its not hard math or anything and you think this is the sweetest thing ever. And every year the reviews say it isnt that easy and your friend gets a 48 before the curve on the midterm, but you just really want to take it anyway. So go for it, the SC/QR combo is usually the stuff that the kids who don't take gut classes go for in the first place, so a class like this that we and not they even think of must be something special?
conservation biology - Somehow, the entire DKE/Football gut-taking machine found out about this one last year and with great results. With material like "how to save salamanders and algae", this class really offers you some skills and knowledge you can take to the real world or at least to impress the person sitting next to you when you are stoned and watching planet earth at 4am. Apparently, you pretty much need not show up to this class. Its all on Animal Planet or wikipedia anyway. This is by far the easiest way for the SC - too bad you actually have to go up science hill for once to take it. Yeah, I'm too lazy.
computer science and the modern intellectual agenda: Yeah, I read the title to this and asked myself "uhh, what is the modern intellectual agenda?" too. This may get the award for the most random mix of subjects to the point that there is pretty much nothing to say. It'd be like having a class on pornography in the boer war. Seriously, there cannot be more than like 5 sentences to say about that in the universe. If you are willing to really have no clue what you are getting in to, this looks like a great gut.
computers and the law: Bob Dunne is to gut courses at Yale sort of as Eminem is to white rappers. Sure, there may have been people who had experimented in the industry before, but Bob Dunne really took easy classes at Yale to a level that has never been known before. Over 600 kids take this class each year, mainly learning about child custody battles, fur coat advertisements, porn, identity theft, and child
porn, and the tests will heavily remind you of the multiple choice tests you take to get your learner's permit. If you don't take this before you graduate, I have no clue what to tell you.
alcohol and other drugs in american culture: If you did not salivate the second that you read the name of this course, you seriously must be illiterate. This definitely wins the "name that sounds most like the content of my favorite mtv shows and thus i must take it class" award this year, taking the crown from food psych and fat and thin. The reviews look really good for this gut, and I have no doubt in my mind that the entire swim team will be sitting together for this one when I show up on day one. This gut is hotter than Michael Vick and Matt Sills combined right now.
early modern england: This class is one of those consistent "yeah it doesnt interest me that much but it looks easy and it looks interesting enough so that i will take it" classes. Basically, you just learn about the same shit you see on the history channel, in "Shakespeare in Love" and "Elizabeth" with the occasional renaissance fair and "Medieval Times" mixed in. Section is great because as usual only 2 kids did the reading and talk the entire time while you just nod and say stuff like "yeah, england really grew a lot in terms of population and the economy in the 17th century. yeah...". The final for this class is the ever popular pick 2 out of 20 essay topics. Keith Wrightson dresses sort of like Prince as an old british man, and you need to show up fewer than 5 times all year, so this one is a winner.
the hero in the ancient near east: This is perhaps the biggest "how in the world did someone find out this was a gut class" gut. Seriously, who would sign up for a random class like this before people knew it would be a gut? WTF? Anyway, somehow, the baseball team discovered this one and has been holding it as an heirloom for a couple of years now. Apparently, everyone gets an A and the final is some sort of trip to a museum. You may even be able to tell me what the ancient near east was.
geometry of nature:Haven't you ever been itching to know the volume and area of random plants and animals as you walk through the park on a sunny day? Do you get high and wonder where the centroid of the tree you cant stop staring at is? I didn't think so, but seriously, it is hard to find really worthless QRs at Yale University as most of the time math problems have some sort of practical application. This may be one of the few glorious exceptions.
fractal geometry: This gut course is just a slightly more famous version of the class right above. Stoners and artsie kids have been doing this as their QR for years before going back to their preferred English and Anthro majors. I think fractal geometry is like, learning about snowflakes and stuff, or maybe those "magic eye" pictures where if you squinted you could suddenly see dolphins "breaching"' the surface or something? I dont know, but we all have been getting bored and drawing random patterns in our notebooks since like 1997, so now we might as well do it constructively right?
first order logic: This is not really a gut class at all, but it is perhaps the only QR class that really only peripherally involves actually doing math. Basically, you do really wacked out versions of those proofs from 8th grade geometry. Shit, ive even heard learning this stuff is useful for the "LSAT"s, and it is a pretty popular choice among the more intellectual circles at the university. It isnt really a Zeta Psi Rad Party type crew that shows up to this class, but still it isnt half bad.
philosophy of science: Now here we have a class that has such a broad title that the professor doesnt even apparently bother assigning work, which is really just an ideal situation for everyone. This class is one of those that has those good looking "less work" graphs and one of those "excellent" overall review graphs followed by actual reviews saying stuff like "take this class, the grading is easy and it is not much work. you dont need to go. just sign up. its almost fun even". Yeah, we all know that that is all we really look for on the classes server...
intro to comparative politics: this is sort of like the saturday night toads of yale guts. you really can expect to see absolutely everyone who you have ever seen hold a solo cup at this one. It isn't particularly gutty except that it has a massive curve and if you just bother to show up and do the reading you will get an A. Plus, the hockey team will probably make some sort of study guide that will get forwarded to you eventually before the midterm and final. You will definitely start to schedule naps when you should be at this class.
strategy technology and war: This is of course the classic "Meaty guys who want to talk about tanks and rockets and shit exploding class" but it apparently brings so much more to the table than that. Sure, you will know all about the U.S. nuclear arsenal hiding in our submarines all over the globe just waiting for some bro to press the button after taking this class, but you will also probably get an A. Apparently, the professor just disappeared at the end of last year and then gave everyone As? The story was something like that at least.
public opinion: Adam F Simon is probably the easiest professor at Yale. He is really gunning to be the next Bob Dunne. Basically, Adam F will complain to you about how network tv is retarded, people are retarded, and tell you random anecdotes about his dog, family, time at ucla, or his next book. You will know a lot of about current events if you show up. You will get an A even if you dont. This class generally migrates directly to the varsity weightroom right after letting out.
languages and politics: I bet I can figure out where this class is going: People like people who speak the same language that they do. This drastically affects world politics. This seems to be a pretty run of the mill gut. Not much reading. Not much to understand. Tests and Essays that you can answer with any of 1000 examples. It is really really shocking that so many athletes are polisci majors.
government and politics in africa: This class is most famous for the fact that the teacher fairly much gives you a complete set of lecture notes, thus rendering the thought of actually attending class completely obsolete. I mean, Maury and Springer are way better uses of any afternoon. Maybe it will be an episode with Wild Teen Daughters and Dee West Motivational Speaker instead of showing up?
statistics as a way of knowing: I would figure that the follow up class, "Statistics as a way of stuff other than knowing" is actually slightly easier than this gem with an absolutely idiotic name, bur seriously, this cannot be very hard. It is probably really just "statistics" because adding "as a way of knowing" to the title of a class is sort of like when gillette adds "extreme" or "turbo" to a razor. Sure, it makes it slightly cooler, but it is the exact same thing as it was before. Regardless, this cannot possibly be hard. If it is, that sucks dude...
autism and related disorderes: This has potential to be one of those classes where the professor is completely shocked when 100 people show up to a class that 6 people took last year because word of mouth and reviews said it was so disgustingly easy. It will likely start out in a room like WLH 114 and be being taught in SSS by class #3. That is always a great sign.
history of jewish culture to the reformation: So if you are more comfortable learning about jews than about african americans, the female anatomy, or algae simply because you will get a good grade and not do much work, this is the class for you. I would expect that to be pretty common because my intuition tells me that while about 1/10 of yale students are african american and 1/2 are female, about 9/10 are jewish. shalom
computers and society: Man facebook really has changed the way that we see if we want to hit on girls... We have access to pictures from so many parties like "jammie jam" or "gin and jews"... I still maintain DKE needs to throw "gin and gentiles" on the weekend after the AEPI bash, just for the minor contrast. Yeah, that was a tangent, but you get the picture. That is the kind of stuff you ate going to learn about. Really challenging... Its like we are the best and the brightest or something...
WHAT To Not Take:
MICROECONOMICS: I cannot with any clear conscience send out a mass email and not remind everyone on the face of the earth not to take MICRO unless you like awful boring classes that you will end up getting a C+ in. Seriously though, utility curves are cool. So are horrible professors, arbitrarily shitty curves, tedious work, and gleaning no greater of economics whatsoever.... but for the 200 of you
who take it... I told you so.
enjoy "shopping period"...