First Year Seminar

Aug 2020

Despite the mixed reviews, with deep regret, I took the chance with this professor. This professor created a hostile environment in the classroom, office hours, and in the virtual classroom. When we were on campus, I attended office hours 1-2 per week. Office hours were uncomfortable and hostile. This hostile environment began with a writing assignment and speech on our personal story that shaped our perception of America. In seeking help on articulating my story, this professor compared me to others in order to invalidate my story. In particular, if you are a person of color, first-generation, or low-income, I highly recommend not taking this class. As we are taught to question, argue, and advocate, I always approached her about the problematic statements she would say about my essays, in class, and during office hours. This professor would always get very angry with me and defensive. When the classroom went virtual, I faced a wide range of barriers to accessing classes and learning. This professor refused to listen to multiple people that were contacting her about me; she was extremely unaccommodating. While The College went to universal pass/fail grading in the middle of the pandemic, she only increased her expectations and continually held a passing grade against me. This professor also completely overstepped; she took it upon herself to contact my previous professors and contact people to get information on me.   Aside from all of this, I can honestly say that I did not learn anything from this course. I am a very serious student and absolutely love an intimate learning experience. I was very disappointed that I didn't get the promised Barnard First-Year experience. This professor does not know how to engage students or lead a discussion; classes were often silent and awkward. This professor was inattentive to my writing and would often simply misread my drafts. Her feedback only consisted of surface-level edits (ie. grammar, style, sentence structure). I highly discourage any course with this professor.

Apr 2020

If you are a white student, you'll be fine in Professor Ellsberg's class. If you are a student of color, prepare to be singled out and/or offended sometimes. She's the pure definition of a white feminist. She'll act woke in some ways, but be completely ignorant in others. It's obvious that the classroom is the only exposure she has to people that aren't white, and she will regularly say offensive microaggressions (I'm sure she doesn't even know what that word means). If she ever reads this, she'll know what I'm talking about when I say that she called out (more like yelled at) and embarrassed a black in her class for absolutely NO REASON. She tried apologizing to the student in front of our whole class to cover her ass because she knew if she didn't she'd look like a complete racist. Yes, Ellsberg is smart, gives reasonable homework, and is overall a fine professor. And some of the other white students in our class were able to overlook her racism. I just thought I'd say more about what some other people are talking about in her other reviews. I'm not trying to talk people out of taking her class. In fact, instead, I hope she will somehow read this and get her racial bias in check. It's not something that can't be improved. I hope she keeps going to diversity training and makes an effort to do better.

Nov 2019

Peggy! What a gal. She will definitely sharpen your writing skills (her expectations for writing style are very clear), and she assigns interesting homework. The only downsides to her class is that she talks a lot and is a bit controversial. FYS is about getting to know the other first-years in the class, but I only know about her life. She will often spend most of the class talking about her children rather than the material we were meant to cover that day. She also says questionable things in regards to race/ethnicity. I can tell it makes POC in the room feel weird. It's never outwardly offense, but it can come off as a bit careless. But overall, her class is lighthearted and entertaining. You won't regret taking the class. And honestly, our class bonded over how crazy Peggy is, so don't worry if there isn't much of a chance to talk to other students during class.

May 2018

TAKE TIPPING POINTS! Margaret makes you think twice about everything you thought you knew. She is a tough grader, but she offers criticism to make you strengthen your argument instead of change it to match her beliefs (which is pretty rare). She genuinely cares about all of her students and took us to the Whitney at the end of the semester. She is an amazing professor and I hope to take more courses with her in the future!! All these CULPA reviews are true-take MARGARET'S class and worship her like the goddess she is!

Dec 2016

I had Prof. Son for First Year Seminar (on Memory). She is an amazing seminar teacher! She is very interesting and kind, and she cares deeply about her students and their personal and academic success. Her class is interesting and fun, and very relaxed. I would strongly recommend it!

May 2015

First Year Seminar: The Americas Professor Mehta and I got along like oil and water. Shade was thrown 24/7, and I think there was a mutual dislike of each other, which you could tell even whilst in class, where she would subtly try to make all of my arguments fall through, and always look shocked when I said something that could be construed as smart. She also is very easily side-tracked, and picks favorites. I came into the class not quite knowing what to expect, but I'd heard good things about her. We had much more work than other seminar classes, and it was treated more like a first-year English class than a seminar. Each paper had its own spin on it; one time we had to give a speech to the class, one time we had to do a creative writing, etc. You don't really need to read the books to keep up in the class, and most of the class is discussion. This is, however, a pretty work intensive course, with a great deal of readings as well as writings. However much we did not get along, I will admit that my writing did improve in her class. I felt my writing tighten and was much less wishy-washy. which is funny, because she always gave me poor grades on my assignments because she felt I was "too concise". She very much likes students who are prolix and are deeply interested in subject matters that come up in her class. Otherwise, she won't really be fond of you. Mehta is very good with drafts, and she always meets with students one-on-one to help them out, and responds in decent time to emailed drafts for more input. Her grading is generally quite fair.

Jan 2015

I took Tyerman's FYE Madness class. It was amazing. He is amazing. He's part of the Slavic Department and from what I understood his PhD work is on the relationship between China and Russia. Talk about madness. While I'm not sure he'll teach this seminar again, I can still talk to his teaching ability. Professor Tyerman cares about his student and the subject he's teaching. He gave a huge variety of texts to read- from Shakespeare to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to Chinese and Russian short stories. In addition, we watched films such as Solaris and Vertigo. Class discussions consisted of Professor Tyerman asking a broad question and allowing students to answer and articulate ideas. If a student had difficulty speaking, Professor Tyerman would reiterate back to the student and the class what the student had tried to say and ask if that was correct. He never stepped on a student's ideas or opinions, only asking more questions so students could better formulate what they were thinking. The only issue I found is that sometimes Professor Tyerman can be too nice, but perhaps this is because I had an extremely mean English teacher in high school. I once had made a comment in class and Professor Tyerman didn't agree and said so. I did not feel that it was mean, embarrassing or anything negative- he just didn't agree. He ended up writing me an email to say that he didn't mean to not listen to my ideas. He wants students to feel comfortable expressing themselves and definitely came across! Essays were graded twice -first a rough draft. I thought he was always completely fair in his comments and grades. He would tell you what needs to be more clarified or supported, or perhaps your argument just didn't make sense. As long as you followed his comments and suggestions, you would get a higher grade. Office hours were not only helpful, but fun. Professor Tyerman is genuinely interested in what you have to say and in what you think. I went several times to his OH asking questions about class discussions, potential essay topics, and first drafts. He answered my questions directly, but also posed questions about my ideas and thoughts, forcing me to actually, really think about what I wanted to say and not what I thought he wanted me to say. In addition, since I had attended so many OH, I asked Professor Tyerman to be a reference for an internship I was applying for. He happily agreed and after I got the job, he asked me about my work and how things we going there. He really, truly cares. I have no interest whatsoever in Slavic Studies, but I will without a doubt take another class with Professor Tyerman even if the subject does not interest me, because I know Professor Tyerman will engage me in class and I will end up caring since he does.

Apr 2014

He truly cares about his students. He spends time in class making sure everybody understands assignments and what he expects. The readings he chooses are all interesting, but it is possible to get away with not doing some of the readings. He provides thoughtful comments on essays that really helped me improve as a writer. Keep in mind that he expects 2 drafts of every essay and grades BOTH of them. Your total grade for that essay will be the average of the 1st and 2nd drafts. I would definitely recommend his first-year seminar class.

Nov 2013

Take this class if you're into Lord of the Rings, class discussion, and a really nice professor. Honestly, Pagano was the best professor I could've taken to start off my english experiance here. He is super friendly and completely understanding, and he really cares about his students. At the end of every class, he asked us (and seemed concerned about ) whether we were enjoying class discussions. The subject matter is interesting, and the reading list (Keats, Allende, Shelley, Tolkein) covers pretty much every point on the fantasy spectrum. The discussions are also in depth and fascinating, and really tie together the genre as a whole. The discussions seem a bit circular at times, but because the subject matter is so specific there is often no other real common threads to point out. Overall, he's a great professor teaching interesting things (to a bunch of first-years nonetheless). Don't sign up for this if you're not into fantasy literature- but if you get into this class, be excited!

Feb 2010

I know that everyone loves Professor Prescott, but I'm taking her class this semester and am having an entirely different sort of experience. Professor Prescott clearly knows a lot, but unless you want to spend class hearing about all of the obscure poetry that she's memorized, and all of the background information that she's accumulated, then you'll find her class terribly boring. We have hardly talked about the text at all--but I do know something about Galileo now. Completely irrelevant. Also, if you're under the impression that this class is a seminar, you're incorrect. She talks at you all class without asking for your opinions or input. As far as papers go, she assigns a lot of them, and she gives you bad grades if she doesn't agree with your thesis. Also, don't try to write a paper that analyzes the conflicts/tensions in a book that aren't explicitly mentioned in the text. You're much better off writing a traditional "content versus form" paper, since it's the only thing she seems to appreciate. I don't deny that she knows a great deal, but I find it very difficult to deal with her arrogant name-dropping, sweeping generalizations, and condescending attitude. I just wanted to make sure that people on this site saw that some people have a different opinion, since I chose this seminar based on CULPA reviews and was sorely disappointed in the result.

May 2007

Professor Prescott is a brilliant woman. She is funny, personable and down-to-earth. She knows everything there is to know about the author and history behind each piece, adding extra depth and little anecdotes that can be entertaining. She critiqued my writing all semester, and as much as it was frustrating that my grades weren't stellar, her comments and suggestions have much improved my work. She's also really lenient about handing in papers on time. If you're a first-year, she's teaching Legacy, and you genuinely want to improve your writing, take her class, but don't expect A's.

Jun 2005

Aside from being a cruel hypocrite, she's damned BORING! Claims she enforces all rules of the syllabus and will fail you at the strike of the clock but then lets certain students show up late every day, turn in papers a week late, and basically do whatever they want. Clearly an intelligent scholar, except, she never shares any of her knowledge with the students struggling to make the required number of comments per discussion. In short, a rude, cold woman with little interest in the education of anyone but herself.

Nov 2004

This guy is AWESOME. He conceived of the whole Frontiers of Science idea in the first place, and I was blessed to have him as my seminar leader. He genuinely cares about his class, encourages thinking and is one of those science guys who can explain his thoughts in English, not metaphysical psychobabble. It's been my favourite class this semester, and I definitely recommend taking any of his other classes if not Frontiers...just for the way he teaches, if nothing else

Apr 2003

this is the best class i have taken as a first-year. if i decide to major in art history, it will be because of professors like Buchloh. yes, this class is painful at times but just to hear this man talk is astounding and well worth the effort. he is really at the top of his game. i thought of myself as extremely lucky that i even got to be in a seminar class with Buchloh as a first-year. he's also very approachable during his office hours and has a very good sense of humor! you will have to work but i find that i write a lot of my essays for his class with pleasure. however, i do have to say that i think he plays favorites. ive seen him be a little downright rude and difficult to students he doesn't like as much (our class is really small) but i suspect that is not a problem in the huge lecture classes he usually teaches. all in all though he is a brilliant professor.

Apr 2003

Despite his interesting commentary on the works which we discuss in class, I find my art history seminar extremely painful at times. Having no background in art history, the immense amount of jargon is very hard to swallow, and he'll say a sentence that takes 5 minutes to spill out (by the end, no one's even trying to copy it down). I would not say that he's an easy grader by any means: when I tried to use secondary sources in a paper, I got faulted for using too many, and when I didn't use that many, I got faulted for not using enough. During his office hours, he talks down to you and brushes you off to "go to the writing center" when asked what specifically is wrong with the paper (you'll get a grade at the end with no comments otherwise). I do find his lectures interesting, but most people tune out, even in the small room, because no one knows what he's talking about - he doesn't tailor the class to the class' ability as a whole. In conclusion: you will learn a lot, but it will be a painful experience.

Apr 2003

As the other reviews said, Professor Aloff is a little out there. But she's really dedicated to the work that she's teaching. She wants you to know all about it and really understand what the literature trying to teach you (even if you don't go over it in class that much!) Not a great teacher, but a really sweet lady.

Apr 2003

Professor Aloff's class has been one of the biggest wastes of time in my educational career. Admittedly, English is not her department (she's from Dance), though the fact that she is teaching an English course would imply that she knows something about literature. Professor Aloff is flakey and spacey, ignoring the class's initial syllabus in favor of day-to-day assignments, most of which never get discussed. As a course based around writing, we were offhandedly assigned only two essays and a final paper. This class has assisted in the degeneration of my writing ability, not to mention the millions of brain cells I must have lost by sitting through her classes.

Apr 2002

I really liked Prof. Pagano's class. He really cares about what you have to say and is usually great about keeping a conversation going. If you love analyzing literature but hate professors telling you you're worng all the time - this is the class for you. If you are not and English buff and don't like contributing in classroom discussions - beware - Prof. Pagano has a tendency to call on the people who never speak in class. (But that's fine because whatever you say he listens to and respects as your opinion). He will learn you're name and notice when you are abscent. Over all - it was my most enjoyable class this semester!!