By: Thomas Beaton
If you’re like me —a college senior looking for filler classes to take for easy credits — then you want to optimize your college schedule to include a few classes that are “easy A’s.” Upperclassmen have the advantage of being adjusted to the heavy workloads and time commitments of collegiate level classes. Incoming freshmen do not (I was an example of that.)
However, there is a way to boost (or keep intact) your precious GPA for my fellow UMass brethren. Even in a time where academic achievement is constantly prided, there are still some classes that are interesting and easy at the same time. The following list has been compiled from personal experience, and other blogs, to build a profile of classes known for having low workloads and being “easy A’s.”
Before we begin though, I will quickly share a wonderful tool that the UMass administration doesn’t share (as much as they should.) It’s a website called myedu.com where you can login with your SPIRE ID and password. Myedu allows you to optimize your schedule and gives you grade averages of a class, with filtering options such as professor, semester, and course level. Use this site as much as you can, as I am using it as a reference point for the average grades in the following classes.
Plagues and the Ecology of Disease 140: (Have taken)
- Professor(s) — Dan Cooley and Stephen Rich (temporary lecturer)
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (34%); B range (47%); C range and lower (19%)
- Field of Study — Plant, Soil, and Insect Science
- Summary: Not only is the material very interesting but the online quizzes are hour long attempts with ten multiple choice questions. Also you get two attempts at each quiz. The assignments are relatively easy such as film reviews and write-ups of class material. If you’re into raunchy images of biological phenomena then this class is for you. Cooley warns you about the graphic nature of some of the diseases for those who faint at the sight of blood. Great professor and easy work.
World Politics 121: (Have taken)
- Professor — Vinny Ferraro
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (35%); B range (51%); C range and lower (12%)
- Field of Study — Political Science
- Summary: Vinny is the best lecturer I have had at UMass bar none. The workload consists of two 4-5 page papers, but you can write about anything. The class teaches you about political theory and how you can formulate any opinion about international/sovereignty issues with substantial fact basing it. You feel like a person rather than a robot reciprocating the same information over and over again. Before the lectures begin, Vinny also plays tons of classic jams on his amazon cloud music library for the students to enjoy. A great class where you have a 50% chance of at least getting a B.
Biology of Cancer and AIDS 160: (Taking in Fall 2014; recommended by close friends)
- Professor — Shannon Compton
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (46%); B range (37%); C range and lower (18%)
- Field of Study — Microbiology
- Summary: Since my senior year is coming up, I asked around my group of friends (my fraternity brothers), for easy classes to fill my schedule up. I got several recommendations for this classes all saying they got either an A or a high B. The tests are very easy, and you learn a lot about two very relevant diseases to modern day society. A favorite among many UMass students.
Greek Mythology 224: (Taken by close friends)
- Professor — Anthony Tuck
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (43%); B range (40%); C range and lower (17%)
- Field of Study — Classics
- Summary: My sophomore year roommate gave me blunt advice before graduating, “Take Greek Mythology with Anthony Tuck. Easiest class you’ll ever take.” I never had the opportunity to take this class, but heard that Tuck is very nonchalant and charismatic with his lecturing. Considering that there is an 83% chance to get at least a B, I really wish I had this clear GPA booster on my previous semester schedule. If you can take this class do it.
Social Issues in Intergroup Relations: Exploring Social/Cultural Differences and Common Ground 202 (Taken by friends, I recently found out about the course)
- Professor — Ximena Zuniga
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (69%); B range (21%); C range and lower (10%)
- Field of Study — Education
- Summary: For a class with a very complicated title, I could not believe the percentage of A’s in this class. So out of the sixty grade reports that were used to compute the data, only six people got below a B. A big part of the class is a dialogue about a certain social issue you can choose (sexual identity, race, etc.) and can present/invite any guest you choose. Being invited to the dialogue is how I learned about the class, and participating in it was fun as well as intriguing.
Going Global: Changes in International Journalism 310 (Taken and completed in Fall 2013)
- Professor — Shaheen Pasha
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (79%); B range (8%); C range and lower (12%)
- Field of Study — Journalism
- Summary: For any journalism student, upcoming or trying to finish the major requirements, I highly recommend this elective. I put this class on the list because of how great it is, even though you have to be a journalism major. Shaheen has tremendous experience in the field reporting internationally,covering several topics. She is funny and great at stimulating class participation. You engage in hearty discussions, as well as meet professionals in the international field. The most difficult assignment is a group project that you present to the class, which ends up being easy if you group co-operates well. Get over this bump and you’ll pretty much have an A as long as you attend regularly.
Introduction to Media and Culture 121 (Not Taken, researched)
- Professor — Alison Butler
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (67%); B range (24%); C range and lower (6-9%)
- Field of Study — Communications
- Summary: A lecture-oriented class with pop quizzes where more than half of the students get A’s. Show up to class and you are golden, and so is your GPA. Communications is a field that deals a lot with how the media influences public perception of society and themselves, which makes for some really cool material to learn about.
- Professor — Susan Whitbourne
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (37%); B range (32%); C range and lower (29%)
- Field of Study — Psychology
- Summary: A very popular gen-ed that many freshmen take (for good reason). Whitbourne is very easy to contact and tells you exactly what you need to study for on the exams. The lectures actually help you learn, and the class material grabs your attention. There are even study guides that outline what you need to know.
- Professor — Christie Barcelos
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (66%); B range (22%); C range and lower (10%)
- Field of Study — Public Health
- Summary: A famously easy class that requires little to no effort in order to pass with flying colors.
- Professor — Harley Erdman
- Average Grades based on myedu.com — A range (47%); B range (30%); C range and lower (13%)
- Field of Study — Theater
- Summary: A 100 level class in theater.