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Want A Parent's Opinion On This

gprimegprime 459 replies26 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 485 Member
edited December 2007 in Parents Forum
I figured I would ask this in the parents forum since the quality of the advise given is typically quite a bit better than in other areas of the forum.

Currently, I am a freshman at top 50 school looking to transfer for next year. I posted a thread about this elsewhere, and got some good suggestions, including from some parents, about schools to apply to. My stats are somewhat weak for almost all of them, except perhaps UMich instate. But that isn't my concern. I'd rather take my chances and apply, because I have nothing to lose but a bit of time and money. Given what is potentially available to gain, it seems worthwhile.

My question revolves around course selection and major declaration. As it stands, my plan would be to declare a political science major, though I've not yet completed the paperwork to do so. During first semester, I took a mandatory freshman writing seminar, a Chinese history class, Evolutionary Biology (listed as Geology on transcript), and an introductory political science class, for a total of 13 credits. I had another class, but dropped it without mention on my transcript, as per the school's freshman forgiveness policy.

Registration for second semester took place a couple of days ago. I made my selections but can still change them if the need exists. I am going to be taking 18 credits with Origins of the British Empire (History), American Intellectual Theory (History), Philosophy of Law (Philosophy), Ancient Rome: Republic and Empire (Classics), Intro to International Relations (Political Science), and American Constitutional Law (Political Science). Five are 300 level classes (highest undergraduate level at my school), and one is a 270's course (IR).

I signed up for those courses because they sound exceptionally interesting to me. A couple of them would count for my major if I was stuck here, and the rest as electives. The ways they would be counted elsewhere would vary depending upon where I went, but I would have no problem graduating in the standard four years with a political science/government degree and completed gen eds. The question comes in terms of what other schools will see. I know they won't have final grades for second semester courses, but I assume I would be listing those courses as what I am taking for said semester. What I want to know is if it would hurt my application to see how skewed towards the humanities and social sciences my courses are. Does it send the wrong sort of message to the schools I am applying to?

My second question is whether or not I should declare my major before applying to transfer. I know that I intend to major in political science everywhere I'm considering (or here) except for Penn, where I'm interested in the PPE program. Will it help me in applying to show such decisiveness, or hurt me? Will it better explain my course selection? Part of the reason I want to transfer is my school's science focus, and lack of humanities/social science offerings, so that might be relevant.

For those wondering, I am looking to transfer to one of (in alphabetical order) the following schools: Claremont Mckenna, Cornell, Emory, Rice, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Rochester, and Washington University (St. Louis). I mention this since I imagine the answer depends somewhat on the school.

Thanks in advance.
edited December 2007
12 replies
Post edited by gprime on
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Replies to: Want A Parent's Opinion On This

  • anxiousmomanxiousmom 5783 replies105 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,888 Senior Member
    I don't think it matters. :)
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  • midwesternermidwesterner 1906 replies14 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,920 Senior Member
    My question is, how are you going to survive six classes where the focus is on reading and writing, when you'll be with mostly upperclassmen (the five 300 levels)? It's very possible that a school may not accept you as a transfer until they see your second semester grades, so you do need strong marks. Have you talked to other students about the difficulty level of your courses?

    In terms of political science and history courses vs. math and science courses, I doubt if your course selection will have much impact, except that you do haave a low number of credits for first semster. It may make a school question whether you can handle a fuller course load.
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  • ebeeeeeebeeeee 5017 replies182 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 5,199 Senior Member
    Agree with midwestner. Take you time, you are a freshman, just beginning your college days. I would reconsider such a heavy schedule at a time when your grades will matter. At any school you attend, you should be planning classes with an eye toward meeting requirements and graduating in four years (if you are lucky!). Is there not an advisor who can help you with course selection?
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  • mamenyumamenyu 1489 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,520 Senior Member
    If you were my kid, I think I would suggest a lighter load -- this seems like way too much for anyone to handle successfully in one semester. Also, a little variation might make for a more enjoyable semester and look less like piling it on to impress the admissions office -- how about a course in introduction to music, or a language, or a fun science course for nonmajors.
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  • ConsolationConsolation 22846 replies184 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 23,030 Senior Member
    I always find it hard to judge what "credits" mean, because I went to a school where one normally took at minimum of 4 courses per semester to graduate, for a total of 32. Of course, many people took more some semesters-- sometimes in order to take fewer senior year if working on an honors thesis--but there was a limit of 5 per semester. So four courses first semester sounds normal to me, and 6 courses second semester sounds crazy. Especially with such a heavy reading and writing load.

    Therefore I would tend to agree with those who suggest that you readjust your course schedule to be more realistic.

    I would also suggest that you call the departments you are interested in at the schools to which you would like to transfer, and ask them what they would consider a strong preparation for an incoming sophomore intending to major in their field(s). Nothing like guidance from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
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  • DespSeekPhdDespSeekPhd 962 replies29 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 991 Member
    That second semester courseload is really awfully heavy. I majored in history at a not-very-selective LAC, and my upper level history courses generally involved reading about 5 or 6 books each and writing 3-4 papers of 10-15 pages each, using primary sources. My con law class had readings of decisions, etc., analysis, and brutal tests where we had to use our knowledge of case law to write decisions. Few people got As in that class, and more than half the class dropped.

    The work I had for my upper level classes is pretty typical. Comparing the courses you had first semester with your second semester, you're looking at about 4x as much work. Really. It has nothing to do with how smart a person is, either - there's only so many hours in the day, and when you're buried under papers you can't possibly get done on time, either the quality suffers or the amount completed suffers. That's not a position you want to get into, trust me.
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  • LIMOMOF2LIMOMOF2 3689 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3,698 Senior Member
    Also, if you are really thinking about transferring, you should probably consider taking classes that you know will be accepted by the other school - those are usually courses that are offered by that school as well. I transferred way back in the eighties, and although all of my credits transferred, many were considered "blanket" credits and didn't fulfill any requirements which meant it took me an extra semester to graduate although I had over 140 credits and only 128 were needed to graduate. You are probably better off sticking to introductory classes because those tend to be offered at all schools.

    Plus, as the other posters suggested, your schedule sounds very demanding - those courses all sound like they involve tons of reading - a little balance may be needed.
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  • gprimegprime 459 replies26 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 485 Member
    Thanks for the input everybody. I think at this point I'd be inclined to keep all the maximum number of credits (which is 18) for the semester, regardless of specific course configuration, for now. The thing is, because of freshman forgiveness dropping a class is easy and penalty-free, but the same is not really true of adding one. So I could use the first two weeks of the classes themselves to try out each and see if I ought to drop one, and if so which one.

    ebeeeee, as I said in my original post, looking at the general education requirements of the schools I'm applying to, it doesn't seem that even with all of these transferring as blank credits (unlikely), would prevent me from graduating on time. Political science is a fairly loose major at most schools, and isn't rich in pre-requisites and sequencing that would be hard to keep on top of.

    Mamenyu, therein lies the problem. I don't really have those other interests you mention. Things like music theory or art don't interest me remotely. And I want as little math and science as possible. I'll have finished my school's requirements in both by the end of the semester. And while, at a few of the schools I'm looking at I may need another course or two to do so, I don't really feel inclined to take them before I'm certain I have to. There are other subjects that interest me, but my school doesn't really cover them. For example, the linguistics program is graduate students only. And the communications department cancelled their one really interesting class.

    Consolation, getting in touch with department memebers strikes me as a good idea. I think I'll do that before registration closes and find out what they have to say.

    Again, thanks to all that have given me some suggestions regarding this question. I of course still welcome any further advice.
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  • sanjenferrersanjenferrer 830 replies45 discussions. Posts: 875 Member
    I got into some of those schools as a transfer. I had a mediocre HS GPA and went into college not really thinking of transferring. Most of my freshman year courses were in the 100s. After getting the confidence boost from doing well, I decided to take a 300-level course and my 2nd 200-level course in the summer. I got As in both. This fall as a sophomore, I'm taking 4 200-level courses and 2 300-level ones and getting straight As. All of my courses this semester are reading and writing-intensive, so I basically had to cut back on social stuff. The material we're learning is really interesting though, so I don't even mind the heavy workload that much.

    I basically took whatever courses I wanted, but they just happened to fulfill the core and some of my major requirements.
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  • UnivMomUnivMom 185 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 187 Junior Member
    I graduated from U Mich many moons ago and ususally had rigorous courseloads of 16-18cr of 400-600 level classes. History, Political Science foreign language.

    Are you taking a foreign language or are you bi-lingual? Most Us require 4-6 of foreign language for PoliSci History majors. This is a good semester to start and these courses always transfer or CLEP.

    Advice: check to see if the courses are paper courses or exam. Get a good mix, unless, you just love researching and writing 6 large research papers a semester. I don't know where you are presently going to school, but you may wish you took one class that doesn't have such a heavy reading writing load or perhaps reduce to 16 cr.
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  • cadburycadbury 314 replies16 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 330 Member

    It's fine to take a "test drive" on six courses; but please follow the good counsel given by many here and PLAN on dropping one. Take one or two courses over the summer if you need to make up credits to graduate on time.
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  • gprimegprime 459 replies26 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 485 Member
    Univmom, as per the language requirement, I am inclined to hold off starting one until next year for two reasons. First, I would likely choose an obscure, useless foreign language, whose availability would vary by school. And second, most seem to have fairly modest language requirements.

    - Claremont Mckenna - International relations majors need four semesters, so I can't imagine that PPE or Political science majors have a larger load than that. http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/admission/catalog/2005-2006/pdfs/international-relations.pdf

    - Cornell - Only need one "non-introductory" language class to meet their requirements. Courses of Study 2007-2008: College of Arts and Sciences Government requires nothing else. Undergrad Brochure

    - Emory - I need only two semesters of the same language. Emory College | Current Students | General Education Requirements Their political science department doesn't seem to add any such requirement. Department of Political Science

    - Rice - Looking at the distribution requirements, it seems they can be avoided all together, whether I major in political science or policy studies. http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~reg/distribution/dc_0708.pdf

    - University of Michigan - While I am sure there is one, I cannot find it mentioned on the LSA, Political Science, or Ford School pages. I rather doubt it is any higher. And if I did go there, I could actually afford to take a summer course or two if need be.

    University of Pennsylvania - From what I can tell, all I need is four semesters, except for courses whose proficiency requirement is even less than that.

    University of Rochester - With the cluster system, I am pretty sure no outright foreign language requirement exists, since the Political science department's page doesn't list it among requirements or suggested per-year courses.

    Cadbury, unless I ended up transferring to UMich, I COULD NOT take summer classes. The cost is just too high. I already pay about $48,000 a year because I have no financial aid, so the additional expense is not really a possibility.
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