Introductionary college classes: mostly majors or non-majors

When you took 101 level classes (not including English), did you find that there were more majors or non-majors in the class?

Seems that most Foreign Language classes are non-majors, hard science classes mostly majors. Humanities and Social Sciences in between.

My experience was that PolSci 101 was majors, Spanish 101 mostly folks fulfilling foreign language requirement.

One last question, this time for professors: do you prefer teaching majors or non-majors?

In the vast majority of cases, there were separate versions of classes for majors and non-majors. The one for majors had a higher number than the one for non-majors.

There are only three exceptions that come to mind: freshman composition which everybody had to take, including English majors; foreign language classes which almost everyone had to take, and which most but not all foreign language majors tested out of; and psychology 101, which was required for psych majors and massively popular with everyone else.

All science and math stuff was segregated out though.

Good point Sattua, the other social sciences also mash everyone together.

“Hard science mostly majors”? I thought a lot of students there were pre-med…–and these pre-med types worked very hard and did very well in these classes–as those type classes were very important in medical school admissions… Likewise when Sattua talks about them being segregated out–I thought the pre-med types took the tougher courses.

You didn’t have to declare a major at my college until your junior year; the chance that people in a freshman-level class had declared a major was small (and if they had declared a major as a freshman, 90% of the time they changed it). Most people took some various classes in their freshman year that fulfilled general requirements and waited to see what stuck. Our requirements were set up at the time so that coursework was in 3 “areas” (roughly organized as hard science, social science, and arts/language) and whatever area your major was in, you ended up with a minor in a different “area.”

Only lab sciences had different classes for majors and non-majors. However the for-majors classes weren’t closed to non-majors. The “for majors” version was just a little more rigorous. I took “physics for majors” as my lab science mainly because it had the better professor (I majored in anthropology).

Also, my university wasn’t strict about prerequisites; I took two 300-level classes my freshman year, just because they seemed interesting. I’m not actually sure I took any 100-level classes, other than language. My major had recently canceled the overly-general 100-level survey class that everyone apparently hated and so coursework actually started at the 200-level. You could test out of freshman composition, which I did.

Hello, my experience is also that the lab sciences were likely to have “X for non-majors”. I wasn’t in any 2 or 300 level classes until I was a sophomore. But I was one of those who arrived on campus with a declared major, in my case PolSci.

My one friend who arrived gung-ho for PoliSci, and declared as a freshman, and had plans for his whole life in politics… ended up with a Ph.D in theater, and manages a local/regional arts organization.

Maybe politics and theater aren’t so different at the end of the day. But I literally do not know one person who stuck with a declared freshman major. I’m sure a few did; I just didn’t know them. Then again, the culture of that college was that declaring a major as a freshman was considered somewhere between “a bit silly” and “a bad idea.”

You’re right about the lack of difference between politics and theatre. :smiley: The people I was most friendly with also stayed with their original major, Psych for both I believe. Don’t know when they declared. BTW, I added Women’s (now Gender) studies, as minor as a sophomore. Had classes I wanted to take, lent selves to minor, so why not?

every school could have their own scheme.

in an area that is science or technical:

an introductory first course for nonmajors might be 100 (people wanting to get required credits in that school would be taking this). an introductory first course for nonmajors but required might be 101. an introductory first course for majors might be 102.

in an area that is not science or technical it might be only 100 and 101.

I went to the same college as Hello Again, around the same time, and my recollection is that we weren’t allowed to officially declare majors as freshmen, although IIRC, the application forms did ask us about our intent.

I’m a college professor now. Most of our freshmen do come in with declared majors, although they switch a lot, and any course that fulfills a gen ed requirement – in other words, most of the intro-level courses – is going to have students from across the curriculum. Once you hit 300- to 400-level courses, or anything that doesn’t fulfill a gen ed requirement, it will be mostly majors, with a sprinkling of students who are not in the major but are nonetheless fulfilling a requirement (e.g., elementary education majors who are pursuing a history concentration within the ed major have to take a certain number of history classes; theatre majors have to take Shakespeare; students in any BS program have to take an upper-level math class, etc.)

I prefer teaching majors. Well, actually it would be more accurate to say I prefer teaching students who give a crap about the course material and are not just taking it to check off the appropriate box, regardless of their major or circumstances, but choosing to major in a subject is a pretty good proxy for giving a damn.

Now that you say it I think you are right. I think the people I knew were “self-declared” ie, they went around saying what planned to major in (ahem, “concentrate” in) and started right in taking classes in that direction.

side comment: I thought it was a real shame when Area/Sequence went out (it happened my senior year and didn’t affect me). As general education systems go, it was better than most, even if it took a little explaining at first.

Fret and Hello, where did you go? There together?

When I was an undergraduate all of the degree plans required us to take a X amount of science, foreign language, history, etc., etc. which meant that the majority of 101 classes were filled by non-majors. I majored in history and ended up taking Biology and Physical Anthropology for my 8 hours of science.

I agree. Gen ed requirements, as usually conceived, are ridiculous – a mile broad and an inch deep. I’d far rather see students pursue one thing outside of their major field in depth than take a single course in a dozen different subjects.

I enjoyed taking my gen eds. I retained and still use a lot of what I learned in them.

As faculty, I don’t care whether it’s majors or non-majors or a mix, as long as they’ve taken the prerequisites, if any (for a 200 level slightly-more than intro class).

There were quite a few athletes in my Education 101 class. (It’s possible they became Phys Ed teachers and just didn’t take the same courses as the Elementary Education majors, like me, did.)

There were plenty of Elementary Education majors in the two lab sciences I took, Astronomy 101 and Physical Geography 102.

Introductory courses aren’t 101. Introductory courses don’t start until the 200s; 101 courses are survey courses. A student would take very few 100-level courses in their own major.

That might have been the rule for the institution as a whole, but how many programs was it true for? I can tell you right now that it’s impossible to major in any of the hard sciences unless you started out as one from day one. Back when I was in undergrad, we were literally required to take more credits than most majors were allowed to take. I have a hard time imagining a major whose requirements are so lax that you could complete it with only two years for the major-specific classes.

Depends on the university, I think. As I recall, my first course in Electrical Engineering was EE 101 - and everyone in it was a EE major (though not everyone remained so).

Communications and journalism is one such major. When I was in college ten years ago, I could only count 39 credits toward the major; that total is now 42. (14 courses at three credits per course.) The idea is that you learn the theory in the classroom and apply it in a more real-world setting. Majors are expected to join and work in student media to build a professional portfolio, so you’re still spending time learning the craft even though you’re only taking one or two journalism courses every semester.

This may be true at some universities or in some programs, but it isn’t a universal rule. In lots of programs, “survey” and “introductory” are pretty much synonymous.

Well, first of all, not having officially declared a major =/= not taking courses in the subject in which one eventually plans to major. (I expect there would have been some raised eyebrows if someone suddenly declared a major in some random field in which they had never taken a course, although I don’t think there was a positive rule against it.)

That said, though, two years as a full-time student = 60 credit hours = twenty courses. I’m having a hard time imagining a major requiring more than that (although of course there are sometimes sequencing and prerequisite issues that make it important for students to start taking certain courses as soon as they enroll).