please don’t call on me

Hi AskA,

I’m going into my third year at UTSG and I was wondering what history and
American Studies 400 courses are like. I’m more so curious about
assignments, difficulty, and these foreign things called small “seminars”
that take place in lieu of lectures.

I’ve taken 300 level courses in history and American Studies and really
want to see how they (and I) stack up against something as unknown and
seemingly daunting as a 400 course.

Thanks a million!



my sincerest apologies, for i have never taken courses in neither history nor american studies. however, as someone who has taken 400-level courses, i can definitely offer you some perspective on what they’re like!

disclaimer: this is based solely on my own experience and may not apply to all 400-level courses.

what to expect: (in no particular order)

1. smaller class sizes: my 400-level classes were very small, usually no more than 30 people. this was slightly scary for me because i always try and make myself invisible when i’m in class in case i doze off. i don’t want to offend the teacher, y’know?

2. seminar style: profs will give shorter lectures and emphasize the importance of in-class discussions. there will probably be lots of time sectioned off specifically for discussion.

3. prepare to talk: you will probably be required to talk in front of the class at some point during the course.

4. great, intellectually stimulating discussions: you’ll find that most people in your 400-level courses are super interested in the course material, meaning that you’ll have some great discussions with your classmates.

5. ‘meeting style’ seating: in my 400-level courses, the tables in class were positioned in a circular formation, which definitely made in-class discussions easier since we could all see each other.

6. you need to keep up with readings: since you will need to talk in class from time to time, you really need to keep up with your readings so you will know what you’re talking about. every time i didn’t finish my readings, i would get a lot of anxiety about talking in front of the class or participating. do those readings!

7. participation marks: you will probably be graded on participation. some people forget this, but the thing to remember is quality over quantity.

8. the prof will know your name: prepare to be called on by your prof because the class is small enough for him/her to learn your name.

9. group projects: you will probably need to do some kind of a presentation with a group in your class. if you have the option to choose, choose your group wisely. there’s nothing worse than having a terrible group.

10. assignments: you’ll still be writing essays. sorry!

11. profs love feedback: i found that my profs were very open to feedback about the class. i had a prof who let us decide how we wanted our tests to be formatted and another prof who let us choose what we wanted our last lecture to be on. smaller class sizes make it much easier for students to bring up any grievances they might have without feeling intimidated by a speaking in front of a large group.

in conclusion, my impression is that if you make an effort to engage in discussions and course material, a 400-level course is not difficult. you just have to put in some time!

good luck! you’ll be fine.

peace and love,





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