One of the most important tasks for the University of Maryland students is surely choosing your class schedule. Since some classes are for filling a requirement from the student’s academic plan book and others are electives, students have a hard time deciding which courses to enroll in. This causes confusion amongst students and consequently, without proper guidance students end up enrolling in an 8 a.m. physics class on Fridays. Who can keep their eyes open during an 8 a.m. on Fridays anyway?
To avoid this painful mistake, take a look at 10 classes UMD terrapins should avoid.
1. Communication Theory and Process
In this course, students learn about social scientific theories of human communication, but most importantly, how to construct their own communication theories. What makes this course tough is the teaching style: unengaging and boring PowerPoint presentations, with the professor lecturing the entire 50 minutes. “My professor, Mr. Kam Namkoong, made his lectures monotone,” said Madi Barnett, a communication major at UMD. “It was hard to concentrate. As a result, I was unable to grasp the concepts of the class as well as I was supposed to. If I could change one thing about this class, I would make the lectures more engaging and I would ask the professors and TAs to coordinate and be on the same page when explaining class concepts.” The teacher assistants rarely speak during class time, so hearing only one voice for 50 minutes proves tiresome for students.
2. Fundamentals of Physics for Life Sciences I
There would be a “Top 10 Hardest Courses” without a science course. Fundamentals of Physics for Life Sciences teaches basic mechanics including forces and energy, properties of matter, and thermodynamics done in authentic biological contexts. “You have online quizzes and lab reports due every week, it is so overwhelming,” said Abdul Rehman, a Neurology and Physiology Major. “Also, you have to spend almost 10 hours per week doing homework, I’m not kidding. To be honest, I would change the way they assign homework assignments, there is too much stuff online.” In addition, students who take this course need to pay an additional $50.00 fee for laboratory materials. Mhmm…seriously?
3. Mathematical Modeling in Biology
“Students will learn empowering mathematical techniques through the understanding of biological models” explains the course description on Testudo. However, what do Neurobiology and Physiology students think about this? “The course description is accurate since it focuses more on making models using math-like linear algebra and partial derivatives, which normally pre-med students do not have to take,” said Arham Ali, a student currently enrolled in this class. “This is an honors course, so not everyone can take it and it is one of a kind.” Students strongly suggest avoiding this class if you are not required to take it!
4. Calculus I, II and III
Students who have taken calculus classes in high school know how painful the transition to college calculus is. Even if some students possess skills with numbers and mathematical operations, math in college presents a new level of difficulty than math in high school. From drawing vectors to memorizing formulas and theorems, class content is cumulative. What students learn in Calculus I will appear again on Calculus II and so on. For this reason, some students overlook pre-calculus classes and enroll in Calculus I, without considering the course content’s complexity.
5. Theories of Interpersonal Communication
Like the course name suggests, Theories of Interpersonal Communication revolves around learning solely one subject: communication theories. Students must read the textbook and articles from communication scholars and come to class prepared. In addition, the class has a unique method of giving attendance points; students must bring paper strips with a reflection or question about the readings. If you ever plan to skip this class, think again. The exam content comes from what the professor says in class and does not include textbook chapters. Along with the boresome, monologist lecture style, the class demands an extra effort from students who want a good grade.
6. American Politics
This course offers an in-depth study of the American government. It may sound simple since there exist two major political parties, but do not let the title of the course fool you. This course not only analyses the political parties in the United States, but it strives to understand “collective action problems” and how the government affects students’ daily lives. “It may look simple since it is a 100-level course, but it is difficult to apply the concepts taught in class. If I had the chance of changing something from the course, I would make tests based more on memorization, like memorizing amendments or bills,” said Eva Booth, a journalism major at UMD. For those not interested in politics, students might face difficulties in reflecting upon the impact of politics on their life.
Regardless of major, most students find it challenging to work on graphs and other mathematical techniques. But for Computer Science majors, taking this class is mandatory. The class teaches the complexity of some elementary algorithms related to sorting, graphs, trees, and combinatorics (how a number of things may be possibly associated and mixed together). “Most class terms are ambiguous, which makes the exams hard,” said Guido Ambasz, a computer science major at UMD. “Lecture is fine and I feel comfortable in class, but what makes this class hard are the exams, since most questions are applying knowledge from the lectures. If you do not pay attention in class, you are doomed.” This class is a z-course, it does not require a recommended textbook, so at least students do not spend money on class material.
8. Principles of Accounting I
The class introduces students to the basic theory and techniques of contemporary financial accounting. “I wanted to double major in marketing, so I had to take accounting to get into the Robert H. Smith Business School,” said Nikki King, an accounting major at UMD. Not only was the material hard, but the professor lectured really fast. He was terrible at explaining the concepts.” For business majors, this course will be a guardian angel since course content overlaps with most Accounting classes.
9. Research Methods in Communication
One of the toughest courses in the communication department, Research Methods in Communication consists of one midterm, one final and one final paper. Nothing unusual, right? Well, the final paper makes this course the most strenuous. It consists of a series of assignments that students need to turn in as the semester goes by. The paper requires students to create their own communication theory, and test it using research methods (i.e., surveys, experiments and the like). The course total is worth 350 points, with the final paper, midterm and final exams weighing 100 points each. What does this mean? Fail one of the three assignments and you will automatically be deducted 100 points. Finally, students earn the remaining 50 points from their homework and discussion questions.
10. Operating Systems
Some students consider this course as the most vital course for Computer Science majors. In Operating Systems, students learn the essential topics regarding their major such as multiprogramming. This course requires two prerequisites and cannot be taken without permission from the CMSC Department. In other words, enrolling in the class already presents students with a challenge.