Tag Archives: Senior Seminar

Senior (and First Year) Seminars

The flip side of Casey’s coin are, of course, senior seminars.  While intros are full of energy because of the volume of new students grappling with new subject matter, senior seminars are exciting because they are specialized and generally full of people you have interacting with in lower level classes for a few years.

This semester, I’m taking two poli sci seminars, a Seminar in Diplomacy with Professor Leng and a seminar in Chinese Foreign Policy with Professor Teets.  After (almost) four years at Midd, you know a lot of the students in your department, have figured out which professors you simply can’t miss, and have a strong base of knowledge with which to discuss more specialized subject matter.

Here’s why senior seminars serve as such a great capstone to four years at Midd:

Experience: Everyone in your seminar operates from a similarly strong base of knowledge (academic and personal).  Many of my classmates in my Chinese Foreign Policy seminar studied at one of the Middlebury Schools in China.  Several are international students from China.  This richness of my classmates’ personal and academic backgrounds make class discussions interesting and deep.

on that note…

Discussion: The quality of seminars rely on the quality of discussion.  They’re small (capped at 15 students), so there’s no hiding in the back corner.  However, it is easy to facilitate discussion when everyone is coming from a similar background and has unique personal insights to share.

Old is New Again: For some poli sci students (myself included), it’s easy to forget or confuse exactly what Kenneth Waltz‘s theories of international relations entail.  Seminars give everyone a chance to reconsider key theories that they may have been forgotten or confused over the years and consider them in a new, more specialized context.

More relevant to you as applicants is the First Year Seminar program. The First Year Seminar shares a similar philosophy.  They’re small (capped at 15).  While everyone approached the material from different academic backgrounds, they all bring their own personal experience and insights to the table.  First Year Seminars are a great way to make new friends when you first get on campus and an opportunity to explore more specialized material from the beginning of your college career.

Class Registration: The Final Countdown

I’m admittedly a bit groggy this morning after waking up at 6:45 a.m. to register for spring term classes.  Class registration at Middlebury starts at 7 a.m., with each year assigned a specific day on which it can register.  Overall, the system works well, although it’s not without its quirks.  On your registration morning, your entire class will be awake, logging into Bannerweb (our class registration platform), and counting down the seconds until the clock strikes 7.  At 7:00:01, the mad rush begins, with everyone trying to enter course registration numbers before their top picks get filled up.  Sounds stressful?  Exciting?  Rushed?  It’s all of those things, but for my friends and I, it’s become something of a musical tradition.  During registration, one of my friends will blast Europe’s “The Final Countdown” throughout our suite.  By the end of the five or so minutes of musical excitement, all of us will have secured our classes and be headed back to bed.  This song has come to represent for me the energy surrounding registration and will always remind me of punching course registration numbers into Bannerweb.

For me, as a senior, today’s class registration gave “The Final Countdown” new meaning.  It’s strange to be choosing the last four courses I will take in college and the decision was by no means easy.  Although a lot of my spring semester will consist of independent research and a senior seminar on Chinese Foreign Policy, I wanted to take advantage of the rest of my time at Midd by choosing a couple of interesting courses outside of my major.  It’s really sunk in that next semester is the last hurrah, the Final Countdown.  Unlike you, who have four years of academic opportunity ahead of you, I only have a short time left in which to take classes like Russian Politics and Literature (my J-term choice).  To get a feel for typical Midd course offerings, check out the course catalog.

Signing off, I’d like to leave you with Sweden’s most notable contribution to 80s pop.  Meet Europe: