As an incoming freshman, you’re given a fairly limited number of classes to choose from. For your other three years, you have dozens of courses to sift through. Your academic advisor is available to provide feedback and advice, of course, but your course schedule is ultimately your decision. There’s lots to consider when narrowing down your choices, from class times and lab requirements to professors and potential work loads. If you choose wisely, your next semester could be your best.
Start by reviewing all your graduation and major requirements thoroughly. What classes do you need to take and when? Your academic advisor might suggest that you get all your general coursework finished as early as possible and leave your major-specific classes for your junior and senior year, but that decision really depends on you: would you rather knock all the general ed classes out of the way immediately, or spread them out over eight semesters? In general, it’s a good idea to have a variety of classes each semester; if you can avoid it, don’t take more than two classes that require a lab or are writing-intensive, for example.
Some other considerations to take into account:
- Class time: Do you like early classes and having your afternoons free, or would you rather sleep in? Would you rather have classes spread throughout the week, or would you like to arrange them so you have one or two free days?
- Labs: Science and language classes often require evening labs along with classes two or three days a week. Although an hour doesn’t sound like a lot, time becomes particularly valuable later in the semester when extracurriculars and classwork begin to pile up.
- Professors: If you’ve had a professor before and know what her expectations and workload are like, you’ve got a huge advantage when classes begin. Don’t judge too quickly, though. A really interesting class could be worth taking, even if the professor sounds intimidating.
- Honors and special classes: An honors class is exactly what it sounds like; it’s going to be more challenging, but depending on your college’s system, you may receive more credits. Also, look for unique classes that a professor only offers occasionally. You may only get one chance to take them before you graduate, so give them careful consideration.
Remember, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and take classes outside of your comfort zone. College is a unique time of your life: you’re actually encouraged to try new things. So if you’re curious about archaeology, if always wanted to learn how to sail or do yoga — go for it. You may discover a passion you never knew you had.