So, you’re signing up for classes. The only problem is, you have no idea what you want to major in, so you have no idea what to sign up for! Don’t worry; Empowerly is here to offer some basic guidelines to choosing courses, even if you don’t know your major yet. So, without further ado: how to select courses as an undecided freshman!
Before you start: Know what your AP scores can get you.
The first thing to consider when choosing classes as an undecided freshman? Take time to understand which classes or prerequisites you can waive with your AP scores or summer school credit. Most schools grant academic credit or waive prerequisite classes if you have an AP score of 4 or 5. After knowing what classes you could skip, you should start looking at the general requirements and course catalog online.
And of course: know your scheduled class selection time.
After you commit to your chosen college and pay your deposit, you will be notified when to select courses. This phase would be either during summer or after new students orientation. Usually, large universities have freshmen choose classes during summers; and small liberal art colleges have freshmen do it after they arrive on campus. If you know what you want to major in, this process will be easy for you! You could just focus on what counts toward your major. However, if you do not know what you want to study and hope to explore your interest, the following strategies are for you!
If your registration time is during summer:
Let’s talk about what you have to do if you are attending a college that asks you to register for courses the summer. For the undecided freshman, this can feel totally confusing. The key is to learn about what are some great introductory classes, and who are the professors that you would enjoy having. Whether you are interested in the intro classes directly influences how you choose your major. Also, since different professors have different approaches and ways of teaching, it would help you to explore one subject if you could find the professors that fits your studying habits.
There are several ways an undecided freshman could research about the classes and professors during summer.
Best way, connect and consult current students:
The best way is to try to connect with as many current students as you can, through your friends or through social media like Facebook. Current students who took intro classes could let you know the teaching style of the professors and the pace of the classes.
For instance, when I was trying to decide which introductory economics class I should take as a freshman, I talked to many upperclassmen to figure out what are the differences among the two available options. It turned out that the two intro-classes are drastically different. One is taught in a large lecture setting with around 80 students; the professor for this class loves to talk about all the practical economic applications instead of explaining the basic concept in the textbook. Therefore, students at this class have to spend a lot of time before every class reading textbooks and understanding the basics by themselves in order to follow the lecture. Another intro class is taught in a small class setting with around 20 students per section; and the professors focus more on helping students understand basic theory.
With the available information, I decided that I wanted to take classes with the second professor since I have never taken any economics classes before and wanted to build a solid foundation for my future study in economics.
Some other ways:
Some other ways to learn about classes are: emailing your assigned academic advisor; and researching on forums. However, these two ways each have shortcomings as well.
By talking to your advisor, you could have recommendations from someone who is professional and authoritative; however, your advisor is usually a professor, and therefore he or she might not be able to help you with classes outside of his or her department.
Meanwhile, “Rate My Professor” website could give you reviews from students about the quality and difficulty level of professors, but it could be biased and sometimes rated by only a few students. Therefore, always combine these strategies and try to get a comprehensive understanding of different classes.
If you register after you arrive on campus:
If your school asks you to register classes after new students’ orientation, it would be a lot easier for you to do the research. Besides talking to as many current students as possible for their feedback, you have the opportunities to talk to some different professors. Most schools that adopt this system would host information sessions and invite professors from different departments to answer students’ questions. Definitely use this opportunity and meet with professors to learn about their teaching style. Sometimes in small liberal art colleges, you could listen to classes which you wish to attend but did not successfully register. If you find out that you like the class and wish to enroll, try showing up in classes a few more times and talk to professors to get in.
All in all, don’t panic too much about classes! As a freshman, just explore and have some fun!
Not sure what are some great classes for undecided freshmen? Many of our college counselors are Bay Area natives and can help you make the best choice for your child. Schedule a free consultation below!