While it doesn’t quite feel like it yet, it’s officially my summer vacation! Several of my professors decided to make our finals optional at the last minute, so the school year ended on an anticlimactic note (otherwise I would have been working on final projects until 11:59 tonight!). It’s been a long and crazy year, so I’m extremely excited to finally be able to relax and focus more time on the blog and my research job. Yes, it wasn’t quite the school year I imagined, but there were still so many great memories that I wanted to reflect on today, as well as talk about my classes. I don’t usually do college-related posts, so I hope you enjoy!
For those of you who don’t know, I’m studying Criminology with a minor in Entrepreneurship. I also decided to add Geography to that mix this year (probably as a second major). Since my university is on a quarter system rather than a semester system, I have the opportunity to take a lot of different classes, and the quarter system makes it much easier to pursue multiple degrees. The big downside, though, is that the school year doesn’t finish until June!
I absolutely love being a Criminology major, both for the meaningful-ness of the major, as well as its novelty – I’ve never learned anything about crime or the criminal justice system before, except for my favorite (and skewed) crime-related TV shows! Criminology is a category of Sociology, which means we study society, societal pressures that lead to crime, and the criminal justice system. Usually when I tell people I study Criminology, they interpret the major as a side of Psychology, where we study the brains of criminals to determine their motives. While this would be amazing to study, that’s not really what Criminology is all about.
To give you a sense, here are the classes I took each quarter of this year. I usually take 18 credits per quarter, which at my school correlates to four standard classes and then two 1-credit, 1 day classes for my Entrepreneurship minor (think of them as one-day workshops taught on Saturdays).
Crime and the Media: This class is particularly relevant to the protests and BLM movement happening today, as the media disproportionately represents people of color as perpetrators and white people as victims. Most, if not all, of my Criminology classes discuss the racial injustices of the criminal justice system.
The Sociology of Denial and Acknowledgement: This class was super interesting, as we learned sociological terms for denial—not just in the sense of denying a major wrongdoing, but also denying everyday moments of embarrassment, shame, etc. We finished the quarter by discussing the denial tactics used by government officials following accusations (and photos) of torture at Abu Ghraib and later Guantanamo Bay. Some of my classes, like this one, involve topics that are dark, disturbing, or otherwise difficult to talk about.
Child and Lifespan Development: This was a Psychology class I took before I realized I don’t want to pursue Psychology. While I loved the class and learning about the brain/body, the major just isn’t for me.
Our Dynamic Earth Part 1: This was the first part in a three-quarter Geography science sequence I needed to take for my common curriculum. Little did I know that I would fall in love with Geography (specifically Physical Geography, such as climate patterns, geology, plate tectonics, etc.) and want to pursue it. Also, I loved the professor and her teaching assistant—both of them were such great educators.
Branding and Messaging: This was one of my one-day Saturday classes for my Entrepreneurship minor, where we learned about the importance of branding in any business. I always try to pick the classes that pertain most to skills I can apply to my blog.
Cloud Technologies: This Saturday class was about the mysterious “cloud” and how businesses can use it for data storage, among other things.
Sociological Imagination and Inquiry Part A: This was part one of a two-class sequence methods class required for my major where we learned about qualitative research methods. It was really fun because we got to perform content analysis, interviews, and ethnographies to design a research project of our choice. I decided to do mine on Campus Safety alerts that are sent out to students whenever there is an incident on campus.
Topics in Law and Politics, Brexit: This was the hardest class I’ve taken thus far in my college career. I thought I might want to pursue Socio-Legal Studies, which this class counted towards, and I wanted to learn about the United Kingdom, as I was scheduled to study abroad in Scotland this fall. While the class itself was very difficult and frustrating (it’s a Political Science class, which I had never taken before), I learned SO much fascinating information about the United Kingdom, their government, and of course, Brexit (British Exit from the European Union).
Our Dynamic Earth Part 2: More geography! While the first quarter was spent learning about global climate patterns and weather, this quarter focused more on plate tectonics—think earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc. Just like the Earth science class required in the sixth grade, except at much greater depth.
Exploring Global Citizenship: This 2-credit class is required for anyone who wants to study abroad. Honestly, it was one of the few classes I disliked, as I didn’t find it particularly useful or interesting. But it had to be taken!
Primary Research: This Saturday class was all about researching a target market and making data-driven choices when starting and running a business. Later in the quarter, I participated in the professor’s company’s focus group about yogurt (sounds very strange, I know). But all I had to do was taste-test yogurt and talk about it. I ended up getting paid $50 in cash, so you bet it was a good day!
Intellectual Property: While this Saturday class was difficult, it was super informative to learn about copyright law, patent law, and other ways to protect your intellectual property.
Team Leaders: This Saturday class was really fun AND easy because we just discussed what it means to be a good team leader, manager, etc.
Prison Labor: This was my favorite class I took all year, even though it was entirely online due to the pandemic. I learned so much about work in prisons, why some people advocate for and against it, and the racial injustices of prison labor. I am so grateful that my degree teaches me every day about the systemic racism of our criminal justice system and most importantly, what actions need to be taken to improve the system for everyone. Current events have only strengthened my views on the importance of what I’m learning and reminded me that I, as well as my fellow Criminology and Sociology students, have huge potential to make an impact in changing our criminal justice system for the better.
Sociological Methods Part B: Part two of my methods sequence focused on quantitative research methods, aka statistics. This class did not lend itself well to an online format, so I found it mostly frustrating. Although, our project was about the impacts of COVID-19 on students at our university, so the results of that research were interesting.
Our Dynamic Earth Part 3: More more more Physical Geography! This quarter focused a lot on biomes, climate change, and mitigation strategies.
People, Places, and Landscapes: This was the first Geography course I took beyond the required science sequence. While more Human Geography-based, it was very interesting to learn about migration patterns, urban development, and geopolitics, to name a few topics. I also learned that Geography and Criminology are surprisingly a great pairing, as crime is very highly spatially correlated!
Creating Your Digital Presence: This Saturday class is probably most relevant to my blogging pursuits, as we discussed websites, social media presence, and personal branding. I was surprised to find that I’ve already learned most of the class content through blogging.
Presenting and Visualizing Data: My last Saturday class of the year was about data and Excel, which you know I love (check out my two Excel/fashion blog posts here and here). This class got me really excited to finally dive into Google Analytics and learn how to use it for my blog!
As you can see, I have the amazing opportunity to take a huge variety of classes at my school, for which I am beyond blessed. I also work as a research assistant to a large project analyzing the effects of mass incarceration, which is relevant today more than ever as the media’s attention has shifted to address systemic racism.
On top of my course load and job, this school year also involved some really special memories. I lived in an apartment on campus with three of my girlfriends, where we had a great view of the mountains and watched gorgeous sunsets each night. We also had Girls’ Night every Friday, which included everything from doing face masks, to making cute schedules for our classes, to watching “The Bachelor” (for me it was the first time—the show is a big “yikes” but I understand why people watch it). One of my suitemates and I won our league in intramural doubles tennis, including a swanky school t-shirt as the prize, and we also built a hilarious box fort together, just like little kids do. Our suite hosted a Halloween potluck with all of our friends, and a handful of snow days led to making snow angels, sledding, and snowball fights. And of course, I can’t forget the awesome experience of attending Denver Fashion Week for my birthday or trying out at a model casting call with one of my best friends. Sophomore year had some rough moments, for sure, but there were also so many highlights I don’t have room to include here.
Cheers to summer, to a great albeit crazy school year, and to moving forward! I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post, even though it’s on the longer side. Let me know if you want more college content in the future (and what specifically you’d like to see!), and please reach out if you’d like to know more about Criminology or the criminal justice system. I still have SO much to learn, but I’m so fortunate to be able to learn about it in both my classes and my job as a research assistant. And with that, I’m off to start my vacation in this bright and colorful summer outfit!
Miles of smiles,
Orange Tank (It’s more orange in person than it appears in these photos): Old Navy, $7 // Patterned Skirt: Fair trade boutique on Vashon Island, WA, $80 // Black Studded Heels: Frye via Sundance Outlet, $75 // Black Elephant Purse: Francesca’s, $20 // Belt