It’s What I Go To School For

This fall brought the first of the lasts: my last first day of fall semester, my last move-in to my beautiful single in Mather House, my last Activities Fair. It was bittersweet, and I can’t believe I am already a senior!

Every semester at Harvard since my freshman fall, I have taken four classes, which is pretty normal. This year, one of my classes is Molecular and Cellular Biology 99, a full-year indivisible class for my Honors Thesis (most classes, however, are a semester long). Taking MCB 99 means that I am expected to go into my lab for at least 15-20 hours a week (in reality, a lot more) and take three other classes each semester. Having a lighter course load allows me to devote plenty of time and energy to my thesis project! At the end of our first semester in December, we are graded on the introduction and outline of our thesis, and at the end of spring semester, on the actual thesis! It’s pretty exciting to know that in March my thesis will be submitted J

As you can see from my course schedule below, my life looks pretty empty. However, lots of that time is spent in lab or extracurriculars, so it fills up pretty fast! Actually, I have very few hours of actual class time this year compared to previous years. As a science concentrator, many of the introductory and mid-level classes have lecture, section, and lab, which meant that freshman through junior year I could have as much as 25 hours of class a week.

My class schedule for senior fall

Psychology 16: Developmental Psychology is taught with the Graduate School of Education. We get to learn about how children develop from birth—how they attach to their mother, how they learn language, how they express emotions, and how they learn to lie! We have readings before lecture each week and have to write three papers throughout the semester, which isn’t too bad. Since I’m a Psychology secondary field, the class counts as one of my three electives for my secondary.

Psychology 1861: Developmental Psychopathology—you may have noticed a trend—I’m really interested in child development! This class looks at psychological problems and mental disorders in childhood and adolescence; for example, we have studied depression, anxiety ADHD, and autism. It is by far one of the best classes I have taken at Harvard, even though it’s four hours straight every Thursday (an hour of section followed by three hours of lecture!) What’s really nice about upper level classes is their size—this class has about 20 people, so we get to know each other and the Professor and Teaching Fellow really well. Although three hours seems like a long time, it goes by pretty fast—we normally cover lecture slides, several student presentations, and often have a guest speaker or get to Skype with one of the researchers we read about!

United States in the World 11: American Health Care Policy is, not surprisingly, about health care in America. It is a General Education class, and like many Gen Ed classes, meets twice a week for one and a half hours with a one-hour section once a week. Since I don’t have a background in health policy, it is really interesting to gain some understanding of our health care system and what the recent reform actually means!

Life Sciences 1a: An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology—I’m not actually taking this class (I took it freshman fall) but like I mentioned in my previous post, I’m one of the upperclass facilitators, so I have to either attend lecture or watch the lecture videos and read the notes to prepare for the student study networks where students can ask us about the class and get help on their weekly problem sets.

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