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What is this course?

UC 270 is a 1-credit course designed to explore how and why higher education in the U.S. works the way it does with a focus on practical application. Specifically, it seeks to help students understand how to make the best use of their college education to achieve their goals. It seeks to answer questions like “What are the humanities?” and “What would you do with a major in Sociology?” and “Who decides what courses you have to take to graduate?” and many more.

Who should take this course?

UC 270 is intended primarily for sophomores, but it is open to anyone who wants to know more about the liberal arts and sciences and develop a smart plan for their undergraduate career. You do not have to be enrolled in LSA or planning to major in one of the liberal arts to take this course. Even students who are enrolled in the Engineering School or plan to apply to the Business School will have to fulfill LSA distribution requirements. This class is for anyone who wants to know what they’re supposed to get out of those distribution requirements, how make the most of their LSA education, and how to talk to anyone–including parents, friends, and future employers–about how their degree is preparing them for future success.

How will this course help develop students’ skills?

Short readings will introduce students to the history of the liberal arts, debates about the problems and inadequacies in the U.S. higher education system, and the major methods and approaches that define the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Class discussions will encourage students to reflect on how the readings apply to their lives and hone their oral communication skills. Short writing assignments are designed to get students to engage with the readings, explore potential future careers, and develop a plan for their education.

What will class meetings be like?

The small class size is designed to enable everyone to participate in lively discussions. Students will be encouraged to ask questions, relate ideas in the readings to their personal experiences, identify problems and debate possible solutions. Additionally, students will meet with four successful LSA alumni who will talk about their experiences at UM and how to pursue opportunities like internships, study abroad, service learning, etc.

How will students be evaluated?

Grades will be based on participation, three short posts on this blog, one group project, and a 4-5 page final paper.

The group project will involve researching some complaint students have about the university–e.g. why tuition costs so much, who decided there needs to be a foreign language requirement, or why minority enrollment has been declining in recent years.

One of the blog posts will be about an informational interview. Students will contact a professional in some field they want to know more about and meet with them to find out what it takes to succeed in that career.

The final paper asks students to develop a two year plan modeled on a business plan, including a concise “vision statement” about their primary goals, a detailed explanation of how they plan to achieve them, how they will measure their progress, how they plan to pay for it, and how they will deal with potential setbacks.

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