Easy classes

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I know, I know, we all came to Williams to take four to six challenging and rewarding classes every semester. Then we found how much we liked working for the newspaper or playing a sport or singing a capella or doing plays. Anyway, sometimes you need an easy fourth course. Let's make a list. Please comment only on the size of the workload, and not on the quality of teaching. If there's not universal consensus that a course was easy, it would be relevant to mention whether you've had previous coursework in the subject, or if you're just a genius. If you want opinions about the quality of particular professors, please visit Factrak. Not to be confused with Hard Classes.

Phil 126

This is one of the easier writing intensive classes, if you're looking to get that requirement filled and vehemently dislike writing. It's also a pretty interesting class, especially if you're interested in logic.

Estimated weekly workload: 2 hours a week outside of class

Econ 110

Some sections are easier than others, but this class assigns weekly or bi-weekly problem sets, a couple of small writing assignments, a midterm exam, and a final exam.

Estimated weekly workload: 3 hours
Mandatory attendance? No, but show up as much as possible

Not easy with Sara LaLumia (but INCREDIBLY rewarding)!

Phys 100

Depends on the professor...if you took physics in high school, this shouldn't be much harder. (this is no longer true. don't be fooled) Physics 100 has now been completely overhauled. If you take the class with Prof. Jones be prepared to do a lot of work with relativity with only a brief review of Newtonian Mechanics.

Psych 201

Kirby's section: If you are not good at math, this class will be hard. But if you have a sound grasp of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and occasionally division, and if you have a sort of understanding of how math works, this class is easy. You don't need to do any reading to do the course, which is good since the texts and reading assignments are really dense. Classes are small, so the professor will notice if you are not there.

Estimated weekly workload: 0-2 hours
Mandatory attendence? yes, since it's a small class
Extra credit? No

Not easy with Ari Solomon.

Astronomy 101

Easy (for me, at least, though I've heard that some others have disputed this) if you do the reading and show up for tests and labs. Missing an exam, has, in the past, resulted in almost automatic failure, though, even if you have good excuses and can make the exam up immediately, so be careful about that.

Econ 120

Don't take with Betty Daniel. Sporadic problem sets that can be done at the last minute. Attendance is not necessary as the entire lecture (at least in one prof's section) is contained within a powerpoint presentation available through blackboard - print this out, don't take any notes. Readings from the course packet are assigned but not necessary. Exams are easy, especially if you've taken 110 before.

Estimated weekly workload: 0-2 hours
Mandatory attendance? No

Note: This is just my personal experience, but Econ 120 with Betty Daniel involves weekly problem sets, 2 papers, a presentation and debate on one of the papers, and two really hard tests and a final exam. Just to give you a good idea of how hard the tests are, the first one had a curve of over 20 points.

Math 175: Mathematical Politics: Voting, Power, and Conflict

Very light on actual math.

Math 481: The Big Questions

Everything is sugary and sweet with Professor Morgan teaching it. It could easily be a nightmare, but was not.

Estimated Workload - About 2 hours per week. Homework was *mostly* easy problems and 'comment' questions where we would comment on something we had to read.

Easy classes (even if you can't do math)

PHY 100

workload- 2 hours per week.

Bio of Nutrition and Exercise

workload- 1 hour per week.

History 243: Latin American History 1810-1991

This course is so laid back it's obscene. The course consists of an undemanding midterm paper, an unchallenging take-home exam, and a straight forward self-sheduled final. There are also seven extremely easy "surprise" quizzes throughout the semester, but the professor often gives advance warning or at least hints so even that isn't a hindrance. However the class can get very boring since the lectures are often poorly planned and uninformative and during discussions most of the students in the class sit still starring into space and say absolutely nothing while a few smart-asses shoot their mouths off about things they don't know a lot about. Plus the readings tend to be pretty convoluted and dull. Altogether, this class requires an absolute minimum of effort and most students will feel like they're only taking three courses instead of the usual four. With forty plus students, attendance isn't strict but don't miss more than a few days.

Estimated Weekly Workload: 1 hour, at the most. At the most.

Music 101

workload- 1 hour per week. (This is a lie. It's not as easy as it is made out to be if you have no prior listening experience in music)

Ling 101

Not only is Introduction to Linguistics easy, but it's probably one of the most fun and interesting classes you could ever take at Williams. It's taught by a knowledgeable professor who's willing to explain any and all details of a subject, and also willing to get into discussions of related (or even not very related) material. Most of the class is spent learning the International Phonetic Alphabet...go to lecture, sit back, relax, and listen to the funny noises as all the members of the class try to mimic Professor Sanders' pronunciations. This class is also great for picking up fun facts: where else can you learn to properly use phrases like "bilabial fricative," "spread glottis," or "plosive?" Ling 101 is a problem set class and requires a good memory, but if you have basic quantitative reasoning abilities, it's easy to handle.

Note: I never attended this class, but learned I.P.A. elsewhere, and it is not at all difficult to learn within the course of a few classes, tops, if you have a reasonably good ear for sounds. It is, also, a useful class for anyone who plans to go into singing, since terms like "plosive" come up fairly often there too.

Estimated weekly workload: 0-3 hours

The person who wrote this has got to be joking

LING 156

Perhaps the easiest class you will ever take at Williams. Unfortunately, that also means it is the class you will learn the least in. Some have lovingly referred to this class as the "Tara Sanchez Anecdote Hour (and fifteen minutes)." Powerpoint presentations and personal stories galore! The first midterm had a median of 97, and the final was not very different. It also had the heading from the previous school the visiting professor taught at, and included questions on material not covered in that class (but probably covered where the test originated). Easy A. You would have to try fairly hard to not get a B+. Another plus is that several foreign language TA's take the course, leading to very interesting conversations that usually revolve around, "How was your weekend this weekend?". An example of a question that showed up on the final:

Which of the following is not true:

A. Statement X
B. Statement not X
C. Some random stuff
D. All of the above are false

(Statement X is just some generic statement, I don't remember the exact question. The answer must be either A or B, as any of the other choices is a logical fallacy, regardless of what statement X is, and from the choice of X, it is very obvious whether X is true or not. That is about half the test)

Estimated workload - 20 minutes a week.

PSYC 101

It is not really that the material is easy, but this class is the only class I am aware of at Williams that has extra credit, in the form of participating in psych experiments that oftentimes are extremely interesting anyway. I got an A in the class and very rarely went to class on Friday mornings. The only section that you need to pay close attention in the lecture is Neuroscience, which many people have considered to be the most interesting set of lectures, anyway, and thus easy to pay attention to. Even if you don't do well on that test, you will surely ace the Cognitive Psych or Social Psych part and make up for it. This class is light on the reading, and since there so many people in it, you can find a study partner easily.

I would also add that there is very little in the lectures that cannot be found directly from the book. In fact, despite the fact that I attended almost every lecture, the notes I took down were basically just repeating what I'd read the night before.

Whatever you do, do not buy the textbook. It was revised three times while I was a student, and every time Kassin would claim "students must have the recent edition." Bullshit. If you don't believe, grab copies of your favorite two editions and check the text side by side. I'll be damned if I didn't find, my freshman year, that precisely the same text and figures were present in the 3rd and 4th editions, with a two page difference between editions. If you are lucky enough to take the class in a revision year, check out the free book table in the 1914 Library, even if you are not on financial aid. They'll be liquidating their "old" editions.

Estimated weekly workload: 0-3 hours
Mandatory attendence? no
Extra credit? Yes!

Note: A great number of people have failed this course. Do not be misled by this information. It is necessary either to attend class or to do the readings. You can get away with skipping one or the other, but if you skip both, you will suffer.

Also note: Ok, although I know someone who has failed this course, I feel strongly that this is a result of a complete lack of understanding about what an easy or "low-maintainence" class is and what it isn't. i.e. you still have to study for the exams, and the material is still on par with college-level academics.

(Seconded. This class is easy to fail if you decide not to do the reading or if you regularly skip class, but easy to pass if you simply do the reading and pay a reasonable amount of attention during lectures. Most lectures are also fairly interesting, and most reading material easily comprehensible, so this should not be at all difficult for anyone smart and motivated enough to be at Williams in the first place.)

Estimated weekly workload: 1-3 hours (problem sets)

Geos 104: Oceanography

Well-illustrated powerpoint lectures, an often fun and incredibly easy lab for two hours ever other week, pretty much no homework (though looking at your textbook doesn't actually hurt), and a field trip in the spring! This was one of the easiest and most entertaining classes I've taken here. There is a simple and easy one-question quiz at the beginning of every class for the first part of the semester.

Estimated weekly workload: 0-3 hours
Mandatory attendance? I don't remember, but it's actually worth going

Edit: One-question quiz at the beginning of each class on a concept from the previous lecture. Easy, easy, easy, but she does keep track/it is some percentage (10?) of your grade, so not a class you can plan on skipping.

Philosophy 102

This is a difficult course if you are not adept at writing coherent and well-organized papers, and if you are not confident with speaking up in class and engaging the reading.

Has, in the past, been fairly easy provided you find philosophical discussion interesting. There are typically two sections, of which I only have experience with Professor White's version. Involves significant and frequent reading, but only page-long response papers twice a week, only one of wich was graded, while the other was reviewed by a TA. White is very tough in grading papers, but at least you get to add notes to yours during the class discussions, which can help save a paper that is totally off topic. Class participation is important; do not take this curse if you are shy about offering opinions. (It should be noted that it has been several years since I took this course, so it may have changed by now.)

Professor Cruz also teaches a section, where the only work is four six-page papers spread evenly throughout the semester, with the last one due during exams. These papers, however, are basically the only basis for your grade, but he doesn't grade so stringently that it's easy to fail. Participation in discussions is also important.

....vastly depends on the prof which you have. Cruz, Gerrard, White, Dudley, Mladenvoic and probably others, have all taught this course. Each prof injects their own special flavor into 102. This class is "easy" in being light on the workload, depending on the professor, but sometimes piecing together a coherent philosophical argument can be quite a bear, if it's not your thing. One might go so far as to say that this is an easy class for philosophy majors, but if you're a Div I or Div III major looking for an easy and mindless Div II to fill your distribution requirement, this is not your best bet.

Actually, PHIL 102 is really only an easy class if you are one of those non-major dabbling types who thinks you're just going to talk about "The Matrix" every day. In this case, you will pose a signifcant threat to your classmates' will to live.

I wouldn't call PHIL 102 easy...most professors assign 1-2 short papers a week, and that's a fair amount of writing. The content isn't too hard, but you have to spend at least a few hours a week on the material. Don't take it if you're looking for an easy Div II/Writing Intensive to fulfill requirements. It's not *very* hard, but I would certainly never classify it as an easy class.

Anyone who thinks this is an "easy" class is probably not thinking about the material very deeply.

English 115

Taught by Prof. Murphy, the king of witty and dry sarcasm, this class is the simplest writing intensive course ever brought to Williams. "Writing intensive" really means, one page (double spaced!) response to the weekly reading. By "response" I mean, how did you feel? Did you like it? The biggest paper is a 3-5pager. Only thing is you can't miss more than 2 classes. But you can easily get by without reading a thing.

On the other hand, though English 115 isn't a "difficult" class it shouldn't be scoffed at. There's over 20 pages of graded writing (besides the responses) and Murphy isn't such an easy grader.