Contributor Morgan Howard asked students to tell her the best and worst classes they've taken at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Above, photo by Robert Kinlaw.
It is time for the most dreaded time of year: class registration. It seems like no matter how hard you try, no matter what registration time you get, no matter how early in advance you email a professor, you never end up getting the exact schedule you planned for. Sometimes, you even have to add random classes, and then you’re back at square one. How can you figure out which classes you definitely should take and which to avoid? Ask people who have already gone through it! I asked students to tell me about the best and worst classes they have taken at UNC.
BEST classes to take: These are classes that students said their time at UNC would have been incomplete without. 10/10 recommend!
SOCI 124: Sex and Gender in Society with professor Sherryl Kleinman
If you want a class that will challenge you in a good way and lean into discomfort, this is it.
“It has completely changed the way I view everything in society. From song lyrics to political events, this class truly made me think and view the world on a different level,” Lanie Phillips said.
Phillips warns there is a good amount of work for the class, but as long as you put in the effort, your grade will reflect that.
Students shared a level of involvement and passion about the topics.
“I have been able to find compassion, empathy, and understanding of different experiences created based on the identities we occupy,” said Cesar Rodriguez, who also took the class.
POLI 203: Race, Innocence, and the Decline of the Death Penalty with Dr. Frank Baumgartner
If you have even the slightest interest in race, politics, mass incarceration, police brutality, etc., don’t leave UNC without taking this class.
“I left class every day feeling pissed off at the world, honestly, because of all the things I was learning that I didn’t know before. It will make you lose complete trust in the justice system and admire those who are working to better it,” Maria Mullis said.
“I don’t think I have learned as much about a subject in any class at UNC as I did about racial biases and the death penalty in this class,” Jackson Jones said.
Jones and Mullis both said you have to take it with Baumgartner because his passion for the material stands out. You also get to take a field trip to the Central Prison in Raleigh.
COMM 390: Performing Sexual Health with professor Evan Litwack
The class has an engaging and progressive nature. It stands out because students have an impact on others through the class’ service work requirement.
“I felt like I made a difference,” AJ Goren said. How often do we get to say that about a class?
ENGL 666: Queer Latina/o Literature and Photography with Dr. Maria DeGuzman
This is a class with a great professor and encourages discussion. It doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations or ambiguous answers and really explores the nuance in what it meant to claim or build identity.
“It blew my mind on a near-daily basis and inspired me to dive deeper into my own understanding of what it meant to claim and embody an identity,” Hannah Dent said.
ENEC 475: The Political Economy of Food with professor Pam Jagger
If you’re looking for a class with cool field trips and more of your grade coming from projects than tests, then look no further. This class discusses food policy at international, national, and local levels, which is especially relevant in North Carolina because of the hog industry.
“I’m much more aware of where the food I eat is from and who has access to what foods,” Nicole Frey said.
BEST classes to take: First-year edition! If you’re an incoming first year or even a rising sophomore looking for classes to add, consider these to help with your transition to UNC. (These are also a good option for upperclassmen if you have the time!)
EXSS 141: Personal Health
Megan Hale, who recommended this class, said it should be mandatory for every first year. The transition from high school to college can be overwhelming. Everyone will tell you balance is the most important, but no one really tells you how to achieve it.
“This class teaches you how to eat healthier options on a college campus, how to incorporate exercise into your busy schedule, time management skills, and stress reduction. Everyone at UNC wants to change the world, but we cannot lose ourselves in the process,” Hale said.
ANTH 406: Native Writers with professor Valerie Lambert
“I took this class on a whim to fill a (general education requirement), and it really changed my perspective on the world,” Mark Goldbach said.
This class will deepen your understanding on indigenous identity and gave you a deep appreciation for indigenous cultures not just in the United States, but around the world. Goldbach described this class as an easy A but challenging and stimulating intellectually. Finally, a general education requirement that won’t ruin your life.
WORST classes to take: Students who took these classes said they wouldn’t even want Grayson Allen to take them. Yeah, that bad.
BIOL 101: Principles of Biology with professor Gene Desaix
You knew this was coming. The person who reviewed this class said “it made my transition to college way harder and destroyed my self-esteem.” No class with that description ever needs to be taken. Save yourself while you can.
GEOG 101: Introductory Geology
Alex Robinson described this class as “the bane of my academic existence.” Yikes. Unfortunately, it is a pre-requisite that can’t be avoided for some majors. But on the bright side, it equally sucks no matter what professor you have. That’s one less factor to consider when dropping it in your shopping cart.
Honorable Mention: Any language class
One reviewer said any language class at UNC is the worst to take. When asked how it impacted them, they said, “It impacted my GPA.” Can’t argue with that logic.
WORST professors to take a class with: These are classes where it wasn’t really the subject, it was the professor who made it unbearable. Proceed with caution.
CHEM 102 Lab: General Descriptive Chemistry with professor Lori DelNegro
According to the reviewer, who wished to remain anonymous, this class is unnecessarily difficult, frustrating every single day, and the professor is just ridiculous. If you have to take Chem 102 Lab, you probably shouldn’t take it with this professor.
PHIL 185: Intro to Aesthetics with professor Susan Wolf
Don’t you love when your professor complains about the lack of discussion in class but then does nothing to facilitate discussion in the first place? If so, this is the class for you.
“This class made me never want to take a philosophy class ever again,” Emily Harrison said. Yikes.
ECON 101: Introduction to Economics with professor Boone Turchi
You had to know this would be on the list. The person who reviewed this class said the exams were beyond difficult and this class made them drop their economics major. Avoid.
LING 537: Language Deficits and Cognition with Dr. Jules (Mike) Terry
If you want to take a class because you are interested in speech therapy, this is NOT the one to take to learn more.
“This was definitely an ego booster and did nothing but perpetuate my bad study/life habits (lol),” Kirsten Bubak said.
Bubak said even though Terry is a nice person, taking this class with him will be boring and unchallenging.
HIST 140: The World Since 1945 with Dr. Donald Reid
When asked what she took away from the class, Katie Thayer said, “Nothing. That’s what it was bad. I took nothing away from the class.”
Thayer said the class was a waste of time and added to how much she was already struggling being a first-semester first-year student.