As a Northwestern student coming into my first year, I was excited about the thousands of different options I would have for my classes. I loved the idea of having a major while also exploring topics like Russian literature, Astrobiology, and whatever else I stumbled upon. But with so many choices I found myself getting a little overwhelmed. After a long meeting with my advisor, I planned out how many major classes I should take each quarter in order to create a structure for my schedule. Then, I filled in the gaps with the most interesting courses I could find. Here’s a guide to the best ones I’ve taken so far!

  • Introduction to Neuroscience– As a communication studies major, you can say I’m anything but a scientist. Even so, taking this course with professor Robin Nusslock was one of the best choices I’ve made in my Northwestern career. I loved learning about how the brain works in a way that I would have never understood before. We discussed topics like psychopathology, drug effects, and the secrets to love. And I have to tell you, I felt pretty accomplished after realizing I actually understood neural systems.
  • Emotional Intelligence 101– For some people, spending four hours a week talking about feelings sounds worse than sitting on a nail, but hear me out. This course changed my life. It was centered around scientific approaches to connection and wellbeing, teaching me valuable lessons about how to be more in tune with my surroundings and make my relationships more meaningful. To this day, I find myself thinking about what I learned in that classroom. It even inspired me to take a positive psychology course when studying abroad, which was by far my favorite class ever.
  • Astronomy 101 – Once again I found myself sitting in a lecture hall of people who knew more about physics than I ever would. Even so, every day of this class was a treat. I got credit towards my science distribution requirement and, more importantly, I now know how Black Holes form. We discussed topics such as special relativity, eclipses, and women who won the Nobel Prize. The professor also knew an insane amount of random facts about astronomers over the years, which added a touch of both history and comedy.
  • Communication For Nonprofits- This class was awesome because while we learned about how nonprofits function, we also got the chance to work with real organizations in the Chicagoland Area. My group created a marketing campaign for the Step Up For Recovery event through PEER Services, a nonprofit aiming to help addicts and their loved ones.
  • Media and Motherhood– This quarter was fun simply because of the weird looks I got when I said I was headed to my “motherhood class.” While the course was not focused on how to become a good mom, we studied representation of women and mothers throughout years of media. This included things like learning about the role of women in the World Wars and watching the very best of I Love Lucy.

While these courses were wonderful, they’re just a small look into all of the unique subjects people study at Northwestern. Other favorites I’ve heard of have been Hamilton’s America, Engineering Improv, and Marriage 101 (which I’m so excited to take during my last Spring Quarter here!)  My schedule has been catered to my personal interests, but I can say with confidence that no matter what range of things you’re into, you’ll find classes at NU that make you glad you took a shot at learning something completely new.

One thought on “Teresa: A Guide to My Favorite Northwestern Electives”

  1. Thanks for sharing! Very helpful. I hope I am fortunate enough to take the neuroscience, EQ, and astro courses (I would get weirder looks for taking the motherhood course than you did).

    Stephen M.
    Mequon, WI

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