Q guide

You are currently browsing articles tagged Q guide.

When I said that there’s nothing like stepping out of the exam room after your last final in my blog post from last week, I forgot to mention that there’s (also) nothing like the break time between semesters. I usually don’t like to use the same phrase twice, and I realize this makes me sound like a monster of an exaggerator. Hmm, what other feeling or event would Monster Exaggerator Scott preface with “there’s nothing like”?!? But it’s true. There’s really nothing like it. Really. I’ve only been on break for about a week, and I’ve had lots of family and leisure time. Of course, there are things I should be doing, but everything is subject to a very, very soft deadline on my own time. I think breaks in between semesters (we call winter break “J-Term”) are one of my most favorite parts about being in college. Not only are they incredibly rejuvenating, but you realize how much you take for granted because you’re only home for so long. Between free laundry, being able to sleep in, and my umma‘s (“mom” in Korean) delicious home-cooked meals, you gain a whole new appreciation for everything you don’t have access to while on campus.

At the end of every semester, students are asked to fill out evaluations for each of their courses, which are then compiled and summarized in the “Q Guide.” The Q Guide is a collection of a course’s semesterly evaluations. Students use it when choosing classes for the upcoming semester, and teaching staff use it to get feedback from their students. Some people take it more seriously than others–I always make sure I submit honest and thoughtful comments that I think would help other students, as well as constructive criticism for faculty and teaching fellows. It’s anonymous, so nothing will ever be traced back to your name. However, I always find it super helpful when I’m planning my schedule to read candid feedback from other students, so I try to be as detailed and real as possible.

As I was completing my evaluations, I started to reflect on my junior fall. Studying and doing the assignments for Computer Science 50 and Organic Chemistry alone could have been a separate semester in itself. Students here normally enroll in 4 courses a semester, so considering my other 2 (a statistics course and an elective about childbirth), I realized that I had a very tough workload. I’ve always challenged myself since I was a freshman, but when compared to the others, this semester in particular had its fair share of long and stressful nights. I think that’s why I felt so accomplished and satisfied with the past four months. I started to think about the spring, and there are way too many courses I want to take. It hit me that I only have 3 semesters left, which means that realistically, there are a limited number of classes I can take with way too many to choose from. In the grand scheme of things, I’m very lucky to have this problem. However, I want to take public speaking, do research, and, of course, I have to finish my concentration (major) requirements. I have 3 left! My list is still nearly double the size of a typical schedule, so I’m going to read up on the Q Guide and try to narrow it down. I’ll keep you all updated.

Aside from that, I’ve just been trying to relax! I hope you’re all doing the same and enjoying this time of year, regardless of what your holiday preferences are. I’ll post again next year. (Get it?? In 2012?? What a corny joke…I’ve always loved it, though…) Happy New Year!

Tags: , , ,

Another semester has ended which means another set of 4 (or 5 or 6!) letter grades have come out! Harvard students not only work hard throughout the semester, but we’ll also have to earn the privilege of seeing our grades early.

I’m pretty much obsessed with Harvard College, but that doesn’t mean it’s the epitome of perfection. I think Harvard’s grading system could be more transparent. My public high school used an online system where teachers would input individuals’ scores in varying categories and compute these scores into an overall grade. The online system basically served as a real-time progress report which personally helped me gauge and evaluate what I needed to do more or less of in each class. Although all my assignments and exams at Harvard have been promptly returned, it would be nice to have a similar online grading system, especially because I feel like most of our grades are ultimately relative to other students. This grading system may not exist (yet?! Heyy computer science concentrators, get on this!), Harvard College does offer a singular website where students intricately critique/compliment the classes that they’ve taken during the most recently passed semester. As an incentive to participate, the registrar allows students who have completed course evaluations to view their grades a few weeks earlier than the nonparticipants.

This compilation of student reviews is called the Q guide (which I believe is formerly known as the cue guide; you can’t really see much without a student ID but it doesn’t hurt to browse!). It asks general questions about the course itself (i.e. general thoughts about the course, how it can be improved, difficulty of assignments, etc.) as well as commenting on individual professors and teaching fellows (TFs). It’s really open ended – you can talk about how approachable they are, how timely they are, or even how funny they are. I’ve always done my Q guide evaluations (as a source of procrastination during Reading Period) and I try my best to be comprehensive and extensive as possible. Last Spring semester, my organic chemistry TF was always there for me via email or person. He was the funniest, most patient and down to earth guy! I spent more than an hour basically writing him a letter of recommendation, raving about how he really goes above and beyond his call of duty to make sure that his students understood the material.

I’ve put in a good amount of time to this Q guide because you really get out of it what students decide to put in. I feel like most students look at the Q guide when deciding between both mandatory courses and electives because it can be a good gauge of expected time commitment and what background knowledge is necessary to understand the underlying concepts. However, it’s definitely not something to swear by because a lot of times a class may seem easier on the Q guide than it actually is or vice versa. This Q guide has become a pretty substantial player on campus because I remember my prefrosh (aka Visitas) host telling me how helpful it is and many online course catalogs include an overall Q guide score (ranging from 1 to 5, 5 being the best). The internet is taking over! Are you ready?

Tags: , , ,