Class Outlook

Sunday, 2003-12-14; 11:11:00

What I'm considering doing for my major(s) and minor(s).

So the other day (at 2 AM, no less, when I should've been studying for finals), I was looking at the potential classes that I'm going to take for next quarter and for subsequent quarters. As most of you probably already know, I've already declared Geology (or, more precisely, Geological and Environmental Sciences) as my major. I had previously sat down and laid out my geology classes for the rest of my time at Stanford, just to make sure that I'll budget time to complete all the requirements.

What many of you may not know is that I'm also considering doing a math major as well. I've taken at least one math class per quarter so far at Stanford (except for one quarter), so I've gotten quite far along in the amount of units required for the math major. I also have some AP math units and some CS class units that can potentially count for the math major.

I already have at least a math minor. A max of 10 AP units can be counted towards the math minor/major, and I have 15 (10 from Calc BC AP, 5 from Stats AP). I have 5 units of outside departmental credit (CS 106X), and I have 27 units from 7 completed math classes. 15 of those units are from the Math 50H series -- I didn't do so well in that: B-, C+, B- . Whatever. So that means I already have 42 units towards the major/minor, and a minor is considered to be 6 classes that are 3 units or more. The math major, however, is 64 units, and all upper level classes are only 3 units (this doesn't include CS or Stats classes). Given that I can only have a max of 15 outside departmental units, that means, at the very least, I will have to take 4 more math classes, 1 5-unit CS class, and 1 5-unit Stats class. That will allow me to just clear the 64 unit threshold.

The other constant in my Stanford career has been Italian. I've taken Italian clear through this quarter, and I'm hoping to continue that at least until the end of this year. If I do that, I'll have taken the introductory sequence (Italian Language 1, 2, 3), the higher-level language sequence (Italian Language 21, 22, 23), and the literature sequence (Italian Literature 127, 128, 129). The Italian minor is one higher level class beyond that. That's certainly doable.

I've been taking Italian mainly out of interest (because of my heritage, I guess), but the other big reason is because I want to go abroad for a quarter in Italy. I want my Italian to be at least up to snuff for me to be able to function in Italian society, rather than hanging out with other friends from Stanford. Going to Italy to study for a quarter has been something to which I've always looked forward, but it's been consistently pushed back.

Originally, I planned to go the Winter quarter of my junior year. Autumn was out of the question because a core GES class, GES 80, was only offered in the autumn (that hell of a class that I finally completed on Wednesday, and for which I still haven't gotten my grade). But Winter posed a lot of logistical challenges and hardships, because I wouldn't have had good housing secured for Spring quarter when I would come back, and I would have probably had different roommates for Autumn and Spring quarter. Furthermore, my parents wanted to go to Italy one summer, so it would've been much easier if I went in the summer, and then stayed for Autumn quarter, or went Spring quarter, and then stayed for the summer. So I eventually decided not to go for Winter. I decided on Spring quarter, but then I slowly backed out of that, too, because the GES major requires a 6-week summer field camp. Structural Geology, GES 110, is a strongly recommended prerequisite for field camp, and it's only offered in the Spring. I would also miss the vulcanology classes that are offered only every other year. So I threw that out.

So I'm currently planning to go to Italy next Autumn. Remind me that I have to submit my application by late January.

The other thing about Italy is that it would offer me a chance to get done with all my GERs in one fell swoop. I still have the 3b section to do, as well as all the 4s. So that would be an opportune time to get all those done.

The last thing that I'm considering doing is an honors thesis. If I want to do this, I need to apply by the end of Spring quarter this year, and it's strongly recommended that I apply by the end of Winter quarter. I also have to actually find someone with which to do research, and a research topic. I haven't been thinking about that lately, which is bad, if I want to pursue this option. Typical procrastination.

Going to Italy in Autumn posed a problem with an honors thesis, but I was told it wasn't going to be that big of a deal as long as I had at least started some of the research by the end of my Junior year. Doing an honors thesis adds three units of work to my study list for every quarter of my senior year.

So get this: I've currently decided that I want to pursue all of these options. That means I'll have a degree in GES with honors, a degree in Mathematics, and a minor in Italian, even though I'm going to Italy in Autumn. Am I stupid enough to attempt this? Well, I've mapped it out, and this is what my next 5 quarters will look like:

Winter '04: GES 90, Introduction to Geochemistry (3-4 units); Chem 31M, Chemical Principles with Applications to Material Technology (4 units); GES 131 with GES 190, Environmental Earth Sciences II: Fluvial Systems and Landscape Evolution with Writing in the Major (5 units + 1): Italian Lit 128, The Italian Renaissance and the Path to Modernity (4 units); Italian Seminar, Italy and Italians Today (2 units). Total: 19-20 units.

Spring '04: GES 110, Structural Geology and Tectonics (5 units); GES 185, Volcanology (3 units); Stats 116, Theory of Probability (5 units); Italian Lit 129, Modern Italian History and Literature (4 units); Math (3 units). Total: 20 units.

Summer '04: 6-week GES field camp; Italy.

Autumn '04: Fulfill 3b, 4a, 4b, and 4c GERs in Italy. Honors thesis (3 units). Italian (3-5 units). Total: unknown, but hopefully not too many if I can find classes that fulfill combinations of the aforementioned GERs. The Italian class needs to meet the requirements for the last class in the Italian minor.

Winter '05: Chem 135, Physical Chemical Principles (3 units); Math (3 units); Math (3 units); GES (3-5 units); Honors Thesis (3 units). Total: 15-17 units, likely 15, since I don't need the full 5 units for the geo class.

Spring '05: GES 181, Igneous and Metamorphic Processes (3-5 units); GES 4, Undergraduate Seminar (1 unit); CS 107, Programming Paradigms (3-5 units); Math (3 units); GES (3-5 units), Honors Thesis (3 units). Total: 20-22 units, likely 20, given that I need the full 5 units for CS 107 for the math major, but don't need the full 5 units for the latter geo class (and because I would need to petition to take more than 20 units).

There is little flexibility in this schedule. I could put off Italian next quarter and take it next Winter instead. I could take one of the math or GES classes from spring '05 to winter '05. And I have my choice of math and GES classes wherever it's not specific. Beyond that, I'd have to take everything as written in order to finish an honors Geo major, math major, Italian minor, as well as go to Italy. Realistically, though going to Italy isn't that big of a deal, and is probably more of a benefit rather than a hardship. That's because I need to fulfill my GERs anyway, and it will be a nice break to do them in Italy instead of over here.

So, as you can see, this is entirely doable, and I'm currently following it in order to keep my options open. However, it's going to mean I'm going to do at least 3 20-unit quarters. I was able to do 19 units this past quarter, 4 of which were for the "hardest class" of the geo major. Next quarter shouldn't be TOO bad, since all 6 of the Italian units should be easy enough (the lit class wasn't too taxing, except for the times when we had take-home midterms and finals), and the 6 units for GES 131 are likely not going to be much more taxing then GES 130 was this quarter. But will I be able to withstand the sustained pressure of academics? Stay tuned.

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