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How to Choose Classes for Your First Semester of College
The end of summer leading into your first year of college can be an incredibly hectic time. From planning for move-in day to trying to enjoy those last few days of summer with your friends, it can seem as if there just aren’t enough hours in the day. One important aspect of a clean transition to college that often gets overlooked is preparing for class registration. You want your first foray into college academics to be a success, and a huge part of that is having a good schedule with great classes. We at CollegeVine have compiled a quick guide on how to prepare for class registration and what factors to consider when making your schedule.
So you know exactly what you want you major in?
If you’re one of those people who knows exactly what you want to study, then we have one word for you: prerequisites. It’s never a bad idea to get a jump on chipping away at your major, and it’s important to get early exposure to your chosen field in order to be sure that it truly is what you want to dedicate your time to. That being said, the sooner you get those intro-level prerequisite classes out of the way, the sooner you’ll be able to move on to more advanced classes as you strive to master your craft.
So you have no idea what you want to study?
That’s okay too! College is supposed to be about exploration and self-discovery, and there’s no better time to do this than your first semester. We recommend looking into the majors and minors offered by your college and making a list of as many as you could possibly see yourself pursuing. This is by no means a fool-proof method, but it at least gives you someplace to start. From there, you can head on over to the course catalogue and pick out an intro level course for a couple of subjects in which you’re interested. This will give you a diverse sampling of subjects and will hopefully help you on your path to identifying your passion.
While some schools have blissfully few required courses for graduation, the lion’s share of students have some level of core or distribution requirements. It can definitely be tempting to want to jump right into your desired field (and to procrastinate on that math requirement until the last possible second) but it’s never too early to start knocking off required classes; you’ll thank yourself for it later. This is also a good way to buy some time while still being productive for those who are still figuring out what they want to study.
Other factors to consider:
Not all classes are created equal, and ones that seem fascinating on paper can end up being absolute bores. Sites like Ratemyprofessor or a school-specific equivalent are definitely your friend! Additionally, nothing beats talking to people who have taken the class you are interested in, so ask around campus and you’ll find that people are usually really great about helping out underclassmen and offering their advice. The more intel you can gather on the professor and the class itself, the better.
“I got up early every day for high school, I’ll be fine in an 8:00am class in college” – every freshman’s famous last words.
If you’re not a morning person, don’t take morning classes if you can help it. One of the greatest parts of college is the flexibility of schedules, so be sure to take advantage of it. Of course you won’t always be able to avoid the dreaded early morning class or the annoying evening class that meets at dinner time. However, you know yourself; if you are the type of person who loses steam around 3 o’clock or the one who can’t fall asleep before 2am, be mindful of that when making your schedule; it really does make a big difference.
That rush when you first step on campus will make you feel like you can conquer the world…but you might not be quite ready to conquer those advanced, 4000 level courses. While many of the advanced classes will have strict enrollment standards for which you probably won’t qualify, it is still worth mentioning that we recommend easing into things a bit. This is not to say that you shouldn’t challenge yourself with a rigorous course load; it’s just important to remember that the lower level classes still serve an important purpose of acclimating you to college work and of establishing a strong foundation in the given subject.
Having a great schedule can make a world of difference when transitioning to college, and planing one out is definitely not something to be left to the last minute. Hopefully this guide will provide you with the insights needed to your college career off to a great start.