Fun and Fulfilling – Five UC Santa Barbara Students Share Their Favorite General Education Courses and Why You Should Take Them Too!


Maya Smestad

Staff Writer

UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) undergraduate programs offer a plethora of general education courses (GEs) for students. With so many excellent learning opportunities, it’s natural for students to feel overwhelmed when choosing their GE courses. Not to fear — The Bottom Line (TBL) is here to help. This week, a handful of UCSB students shared their favorite GE course and why they recommend it to other students looking to fulfill their GE requirements. Whether you’re a prospective or current student, these five UCSB students are well versed in the world of GEs at UCSB and ready to share their advice.  

Photo of Jill Heskett.

Jill Heskett, a second-year pre-economic and accounting major, is currently enrolled in her favorite GE. A tried and true economics student, Jill says that Principles of Economics – Micro (ECON 1) has made the most positive impact on her academic life. “What I liked most about econ one was how applicable it was to my real life decisions,” Heskett said in an interview with TBL. “We did a lot of supply and demand using a bunch of graphs, so we would look at companies and individuals’ demands, and then you could apply it to real life cost benefit analysis.” Despite the class being a prerequisite for her to enter full-major status, she stated that she recommends taking it even if you’re not an economics major. “There’s no midterm and no final, so you can really focus on the material without feeling stressed about it.”

Another student, third-year psychology and brain sciences major Bella Major, can’t decide which course she enjoyed more: Feminist Studies: Intro to LGBTQ Studies (FEMST 80) or Language in Society (LING 70) in the linguistics department. “I loved [FEMST 80],” said Major in an interview with TBL. “I think [it’s] my all time favorite class I’ve ever taken at UCSB.” She had taken LGBTQ Studies as a Writing GE, along with LING 70, Language and Power. For this course, she explained that it was “really interesting because it’s about how language shapes discrimination in cultural hierarchies and civilizations.” As a linguistics minor, the latter class is more applicable to her academic career, but it also covered both her writing and history requirements.

Photo of Bella Major.
Photo of Ani Lahiri.

Like Major, second-year mechanical engineering major Ani Lahiri found that he has enjoyed two GE classes equally, one of them being a class in the Feminist Studies division as well: Gender Power (FEMST W20). The other, Children’s Literature (C LIT 128A), was similar to Gender Power in that some lectures were asynchronous, but other lectures were held synchronously. Lahiri explained to TBL that he appreciated both approaches for different reasons, as “[Children’s Literature] had a large degree of flexibility … It was beneficial that the section content was synchronous just because it ensured that I was keeping on track with material and had an opportunity to find any clarifications if needed.” On the other hand, Gender Power was conducted fully asynchronously, “which meant that [he] could learn content on [his] own time … and the content of the course as well as the assignments were quite manageable.”

While many transfer students matriculate into UCSB with all their GEs fulfilled, some take GEs as upperclassmen to satisfy those last few requirements. Fourth-year communication major and transfer student Justin Aquintey shared with TBL that his favorite upper division GE course so far was Introduction to Helping Skills: Theory, Research and Practice (CNCSP 101). “I’m learning about communication strategies, handling depression/anxiety, and dealing with a plethora of additional problems people go through mentally,” he told TBL. Since the class focuses on education about mental wellness, counseling, and other relevant societal issues individuals face, Aquintey felt that the class is applicable to his daily life. “We’re able to practice the meditative methods and apply the lessons to our own lives. With what’s going on with society, I think this topic is really important to address and [doing so] will benefit me, my peers, and those I interact with on a larger scale.”

Photo of Justin Aquintey.
Photo of Elena Pasek.

Students who enjoy traveling and learning about different cultures may be interested in Modern Iran and Global Politics (HIST 46MI), second-year pre-biology major Elena Pasek’s favorite GE. She commented, “I really liked it because the professor was from Iran, and so was my TA. You got a very firsthand account of the history because they had been there and lived through it.” Pasek has visited over ten countries in her life and sought to take GEs that would further her knowledge of the world. Fortunately, this history class, centering around 20th century Iranian history and politics, was more than fulfilling, as Pasek told TBL: “we learned about religion, we learned about politics, [and] we learned about both the good things and the bad things in their history and different revolutions that have occurred.” Overall, Modern Iran and Global Politics is an excellent class to take “if you like learning about history and cultures in other countries,” Pasek states. 

All in all, our university’s GE courses offer rich lessons that can be applied to many careers and aspects of one’s personal life. From modern history to basic economics, UCSB sets students up for more than success in any area they desire.


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