Can’t-miss classes to take your first Fall Quarter


Sylvana Caruso/The Daily Northwestern

Gary Saul Morson, a professor of Slavic languages and literature.

Elizabeth Byrne , Summer Editor

When waiting to come to Northwestern’s campus for the first time, choosing my Fall Quarter courses was the last thing on my mind — I was more worried about whether my bedding would match the color scheme my roommate and I picked out together. When it came time during Wildcat Welcome to choose my classes, I was overwhelmed by the choices as I scrolled through the seemingly endless choices on CAESAR.

I ended up choosing classes that were OK, but not quite right for me. Don’t make the same mistake as me and read up on CTECS, a searchable index of reviews and ratings by previous students for every class at Northwestern. CTECS will become your best friend.

If you’re looking for some well-known NU classes to tick off that seemingly-endless list of distributions or are looking for something new to study, check out these five classes approved by (most) Northwestern students.

Mean Rating: 5.62 (out of 6)
Professor: Gary Morson

Excerpt from CTECs: “Professor Morson literally changes the way you see humanity and yourself and everyday decisions and actions. It’s hard to describe but I do feel like a different person after taking this class.”

The Reality: This is the perfect class for people who have to fulfill a literature and fine arts distro, but hate writing papers (looking at you McCormick students). Prof. Gary Morson has taught this class for years and it’s one of those “bucket list” classes that all NU students rave about. Like most Northwestern classes, there is a lot of reading each night, but Prof. Morson will guide you to the important parts of the books in class.

Mean Rating: 5.33 (out of 6)
Professor: Jules Law

Excerpt from CTECs: “This class really was a great start for me in taking an English class at Northwestern. Prof. Law is amazing and all of the TA’s for the discussion sections are absolutely incredible. I feel like this class would be a great start for anyone that has to do English courses.”

The Reality: If you’re not interested in delving into the depths of Dostoevsky in Russian Lit, try out this literature and fine arts distro course. Prof. Jules Law is very interactive during his lectures, despite their large size. The book selections are always classics like “Frankenstein” and “Jane Eyre.” Chances are you may have encountered these books in high school, but if you want a more detailed look into some classic novels, take this class. Prof. Law also usually plays music before his lectures, which is a fun way to start a class.

Mean Rating 5.77 (out of 6)
Professor: Mary Finch

Excerpt from CTECs: “This course was much different than most other courses I’ve taken since most of the learning came from required readings (not from a text book) and group discussion during class. I felt it challenged me to think about different ideas and how certain decisions or other factors may influence how we operate as a society”

The Reality: Even though beloved Sociology Prof. Craig Rawlings left NU in spring 2018, this class is a great introduction to a popular minor and major at Northwestern. If you’re looking for that traditional large lecture class with 200 of your closest friends, this is the course for you. While Prof. Mary Finch will be replacing Rawlings, her previous Sociology classes have received overall high CTEC ratings and she’s taught Sociology at NU for the past six years.

Mean Rating: 5.60 (out of 6)
Professor: Wendi Gardner

Excerpt from CTECs: “Professor Gardner was an excellent instructor who very obviously is passionate about what she teaches. Attending class is important because she provides interesting examples in class for many of the psychology concepts, making them easier to remember.”

The Reality: Another introduction class, but if you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of the human brain, this class may be for you. Weinberg Prof. Wendi Gardner taught this class last fall and while this class may seem scary because of the science involved, Gardner walks her students through the difficult concepts. Take this class if you’re looking to branch out of your comfort zone, or just need a social and behavioral science distro.

Mean Rating: 5.57 (out of 6)
Professor: Annette D’onofrio

Excerpt from CTECs: “This course is very interesting and (the) Prof is really good at filling the time so, although it’s a long lecture-style class, it almost never drags.”

The Reality: While this class is a social and behavioral science distro, the Linguistics Department is a great place to get some of your natural science distros out of the way, without having to be in a lab. Though linguistics seems pretty abstract, it can be mind-blowing to discover why you speak a certain way or why you use certain words to describe things. Prepare to be a little confused and uncomfortable, but you will walk out of class with a new perspective on how you speak.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @lizbyrne33

Read more from the 2018 Orientation Issue here.