As the name implies, this is going to be a tier ranking of all thirty three classes I took over these past four years at MIT + explanations. I’m leaving! So I can say whatever I want! Raaaraaaaa nothing matters rAaaaaaaa
**class that I cried in/cried over/broke down over
S Tier (Favorite Classes)
CMS.621 Fans and Fan Culture (Ed Schiappa)
My favorite class of all time (hence why it’s first, yes order matters.) I’ve already written an extensive blogpost on why I love this class and why this class is great. Ed Schiappa is a great professor and he’s honestly helped me through so many crises with regards to media studies things. This class was also what pushed me toward 21E in the first place and to taking media studies more seriously.
CMS.S60 Rap Theory and Fundamentals (Lupe Fiasco)
I will write a blogpost about this class eventually, I just have been too hosed this semester to do so. But this is a great class. Honestly one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taken at MIT, just because rapping and then writing raps just isn’t a skill I’ve ever tried out before (and I’m assuming not many people have, really) but I learned SO much. Through this class, I just started thinking about words, speech, and language a lot differently. I tried thinking of obscure references, ways to spin words to have multiple meanings, clever wordplays that I could include in my raps. I even made a notes doc in my phone to write them down in case they came to me. (I would write them here but a lot of them are…incredibly NSFW so it’s probably not super appropriate LMAO!)
CMS.614 Critical Internet Studies (Chris Peterson)
This is actually tied for second with the rap class. I loved this class a lot — I took it last spring + TA’d it this semester and though it was a lot of reading and the discussions were semi-intimidating, I feel as though I really learned so much and began to interact with/look at the Internet a lot differently. (I think about hidden labor a LOT. Like far too much, maybe.)
WGS.140 Race and Identity in American Literature through Superhero Comics (Joaquin Terrones)
I wish I knew about Joaquin’s classes before my senior spring, but alas. Joaquin is one of the best professors I’ve ever had at MIT. In this class, we evaluated superhero comics through the lens of race and gender and it really opened my eyes and changed the way in which I consumed media. For example, we’d look at The Batman movie through a more critical lens and ask questions such as what is vigilanteism? What differentiates a superhero from the police force? Who determines who has what authority? How is what Batman does different from police brutality? While sometimes yes it is good and nice to just consume media for the way that it is and do a ‘haha superhero cool brain off’, it’s also important to view media critically and understand “What narrative is being spun about what groups right now? What message is this subconsciously or consciously trying to push?”and this class taught me how to ask those questions more consistently.
ES.100 Intro to Making (Dave Custer)
This class is fantastic just in the fact that it’s a free for all kind of thing. Anything you wanna make, you just tell Dave and he will help you out. I’ll make a post also on all the things I’ve done and made this semester, but I learned how to laser cut, 3D print, rug tuft, and more. I wish I went to this class more — this semester was hard and I often skipped it because I just couldn’t make it or didn’t have the mental capacity, but I really did love it.
There is something so therapeutic in making something. I said this in my note to Dave, but I entered MIT not really feeling as though I was MIT enough, and even until now, I still felt that way at times. I thought it was too late for me to make things, thought it was too late to learn and I was too scared to ask and didn’t know where to go. But when I got accepted into this class, I realized I was given another chance to learn all the things I was too scared to do. Dave did such a great job at creating such an open, warm and welcoming environment where anyone could ask any question. No project was too big, no question too simple or complex — he treated all of us with such respect and kindness. This class really did change my life. This semester’s been so fucking hard and being able to just push the difficulties of the world away for a bit and spend three hours really dedicating yourself to a crochet project or your rug tufting is something so so sacred and important. I felt the same peace I feel whenever I play guitar or piano or sing.
This class helped me find peace, and for that, it’s one of my favorite classes at MIT.
21M.150 Introductory Music Theory (Garo Saraydarian)
Along the same thread of ES.100, this class was a lovely respite from all these difficult and burdensome this semester. I fell out of music a long time ago because I threw myself into my studies, but by taking this class, I was able to fall in love with music again. From this class, I found myself practicing piano 3-5 times a week before or after class in the music rooms near the classroom. Garo was also an incredibly supportive and kind professor; I would often email him asking for the time signature of certain songs and he’d take the time to reply. Overall, just an encouraging and kind class that helped me a lot.
8.021 Physics II E&M (Joseph Checkelsky)
I didn’t expect to rank this class so highly but as I thought about it, this class gave me a lot of confidence my sophomore year when I took it. I’ve also blogged about this class already so you can read all the reasons why I loved it.
A Tier (Great Class)
21L.590 The Spanish Incubator (Margery Resnick)
For this class, I traveled to Spain for a month and studied Spanish literature and history. It’s a pretty good deal and the class only met for a couple hours a day and it was full of field trips to beautiful museums and tasty restaurants, hence why it’s at the top of the A tier.
21W.744 The Art of Comic Book Writing (Marjorie Liu)
I’ve also written about this class before, but to summarize, comic book writing is so different from film and prose due to the fact that it’s just still images. You can read more about my experiences in this class here and here.
21H.S05 Encoding Culture (Ryaan Ahmed)
This class is extremely cool because it literally embodies what I’ve been looking for during my time at MIT. I will also do a blogpost on this class so I won’t go too much into it, but essentially this class looks at computer science tools and teaches you how to apply them sensibly and meaningfully to humanities research. We learned how to work with text, looking at techniques like sentiment analysis, TF-IDF, and topic modeling, then images and looking at machine learning, color extraction, kernels and filters, and also at audio and datasets.
Coding is honestly so very cool when I get to use it in contexts that are actually relevant and interesting to me.
21W.762 Poetry Workshop (Ed Barrett)
I’ve also written about this class already! TLDR great class that helped me explore forms I never really have before.
6.034 Artificial Intelligence (Kimberle Koile)
One of my favorite CS classes and one of the best taught CS classes at MIT! Super clear and understandable, engaging lectures, well-taught recitations, reasonable-length and difficulty psets/labs, fairly graded quizzes. A class that I think should be taken after 6.0001 (Intro Python) and before 6.009 (Fundamentals of Programming).
They’re trying to get rid of this class and I think that’s stupid because this class is fantastic. I believe this so much so that I wrote a letter called “Do not remove 6.034 from EECS requisites” and in it I write:
6.034 was the class that affirmed my place in computer science. As a 21E major, I am only concentrating in computer science, but I found my time and my work in 6.034 valuable, useful, and, above all, encouraging.
MIT computer science classes in the past were cruel and grueling and, honestly, disheartening. I found myself wanting to quit the major over and over again because it equated punishment and suffering with learning. Classes like 6.006 and 6.009 rewarded past experience and punished new students by moving the class at such a pace that was so difficult to catch up with. I had many of my peers drop these classes for mental health reasons, the class nearly driving some of them to suicide.
6.034 is truly a one of a kind MIT computer science class. This is the one of the only computer science classes at MIT where I can genuinely say I’ve had a positive experience in it and felt like the teaching staff cared about me. The only other one I can think of is 6.08.
Now read that again. How is it that I have taken 6 computer science classes and only two of them were kind to me? Not just tolerable, but kind?
I need 6.034 to stay in the curriculum because it teaches legitimate computer science work and fields, and does so in a good, effective manner. The labs are doable. The office hours are accessible and useful. The teaching staff is receptive to feedback and cares about the wellbeing of their students.
This class is necessary to keep computer science and give them resources to make them feel like they belong in this class.
Had I not take 6.034, I honestly would have quit computer science. But 6.034 convinced me that I could pick up computer science concepts when it was taught at an actual normal speed and I can do labs on my own when they’re not as high stakes or as high pressure as 6.009 or 6.006 coding questions.
I do not think 6.034 is “lesser than” any other intro class at MIT — it is simply more realistic. It is kinder. And it is what we need more of at MIT.
CMS.335 Short Attention Span Documentary (Vivek Bald)
Great class that essentially gave me an excuse to practice video editing and filming and I genuinely got a lot more comfortable in Adobe Premiere through the class. I’ve written about it here.
CMS.616 Games and Culture (T.L. Taylor)
T.L. is a fantastic professor. This class was great and I talk about it a little bit here. We talked a lot about race and gender in video games, sexism in the industry, etc.
7.014 Intro Biology with a focus in Ecology (Graham Walker)
Literally the nicest teaching staff EVER. I also love biology and thought I was going to be a bioengineering major at MIT so it was really refreshing being able to take a STEM class at MIT that I was actually good at. This class also made me consider being course 7 again before I realized it’s probably too late to do that (but honestly I wish I added some variation of 7 in there).
3.091 Intro to Solid State Chemistry (Jeffrey Grossman)
This class was my first ever lecture of my college career. I love chemistry a lot so this class was really easy and fun for me and lectures were so engaging, Grossman is a fantastic prof.
9.00 Intro to Psychology (John Gabrieli)
Previous 9.00 blogpost here. Super funny class with a great professor. Incredibly engaging and silly.
6.08 Intro to EECS via Interconnected Embedded Systems (Joe Steinmeyer)
B Tier (It’s OK)
CMS.300 Intro to Videogame Theory (Mikael Jakobsson)
Also written about here. Good prof, good content, just felt the lectures weren’t super relevant at times or super engaging, but loved being able to play videogames and write about it.
CMS.701 Current Debates in Media (Ed Schiappa)
Love Ed! Only really took this class because it was a requirement. Got to do really interesting debates about media, but nothing super duper special.
18.03 Differential Equations (Tristan Collins)
Ok, I actually don’t know why this is lower than the other two, this should probably be above CMS.300 and CMS.701. I loved this class, but mainly because I loved the professor and found him super engaging and his lectures really entertaining. The TAs were all super helpful and it’s one of the few STEM classes I didn’t feel stupid in.
21G.704 Spanish IV
Okay class! Nice professor, nice environment, nothing super memorable. Got to watch a lot of movies :)
21G.703 Spanish III
6.145 Intro to Python
This class was poorly paced and also rough, I actually don’t know why I placed this so high, it should be in Didn’t really like it LOL but it was fun to take cause it was my freshman IAP and I took it with my friends and we suffered together.
18.01 Calculus I (Larry Guth)
Great professor who’s really understanding. Psets were kind of long. Lecture were super clear, though. Honestly should be above 6.145.
18.02 Calculus II (Semyon Dyatlov)
Great professor!!! Dyatlov is super great, he did little dances at the end of each of our lectures. I don’t think I absorbed the info super well, but that’s not the fault of the class, this was just Fall 2020 virtual semester.
6.S063 Design for the Web (David Karger)**
C Tier (Didn’t really like it)
CMS.100 Intro to Media Studies
OK class. COVID semester class. Readings were interesting, but also didn’t pay a lot of attention.
21M.011 Intro to Western Music (Martin Marks)
Very kind professor! This was the first humanities class I took at MIT. I didn’t do super well in it and I found it kind of hard. Learned-ish.
8.01L Physics I**
Just a really fucking hard class. Not horribly taught, I’m just so bad at physics.
6.042 Math for Computer Science**(Srini Devadas)
Nice professor, he comforted me when I was angry about how we had to take a midterm the day we found out we were getting kicked off campus. Hard class, I’m just really bad at discrete math, but that’s ok.
D Tier (I hope this class burns in hell)
6.009 Fundamentals of Programming**
This class singlehandedly convinced me to fill out a transfer app to leave MIT. horrible transition from intro python to this class. Literally sobbed about this class every week.
6.006 Intro to Algorithms**
Literally dedicated 20-30 hours a week to this class and nothing paid off. I’m sure if I had another semester to get it, I would’ve. But this was the class that taught me that the amount of effort and time you put into a class does not always pay off.