Class Profile: Introductory history course guides underclassmen, career exploration

Freshmen students already have plenty going on in their busy lives. They deal with the throws of moving away from home, joining clubs, maintaining a social life and taking new classes. For incoming students who aren’t exactly sure where their passions lie, the Intro to the History Major course can provide a useful foundation.

The class is designed for first-year history majors to help them choose classes and careers, as well as pushing them to attend events on campus that they normally would not. Similarly, there are also introductory classes like this designed for other majors like biology and mathematics. 

Associate professor and chair of the history department Justin Behrend teaches the Intro to History Major course and believes it is an incredibly valuable course that will help steer more students toward the history major at Geneseo.

“This is something that came about six years ago, and we noticed that we needed to do a better job of retaining our students and paying attention to the history department,” Behrend said. “This is a way to make connections with incoming first-year students and to get them integrated into the history department.”

This class is unique in the way that all of the professors from the history department come and talk about themselves and the classes that they teach. It provides a way for students to ask questions and figure out where they would like to go in their careers—even if they come to realize that they do not wish to pursue a history major. 

In this class, students are required to attend three campus related events and to write a reflection paper on their experience. This experience allows the student to learn new things and reflect on what they like and don’t like.

A group of senior history major students came in to talk about their own class experiences, as well as their senior research papers. They gave advice on what classes to take as well and how to balance extracurriculars and classes. This can be extremely helpful due to the fact that the seniors could answer other students’ questions and give insight on their personal experiences.

This class tries to help students navigate college by giving advice on good study habits and time management, as well as other things.

“One of the things that is mentioned early on in the course is to go to your professor’s office hours,” Behrend said.  

Behrend also teaches humanities and upper level courses in addition to this lower level freshmen course.

Despite being an introductory course, this class does not exclusively apply to first-year students. Behrend explained that it is rarer to have upperclassmen students—as most are already accustomed to the college work load and need to get into major required classes—but it is still an option if a student would like the experience.