My First College Semester: What Classes Should I Take?

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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or confused when you’re looking at the class listings available at college. In high school, your choices have been relatively limited and well-defined; at college, there are myriad choices and far less guidance. Instead of stressing about what you’ll do once you arrive on campus, though, start planning ahead now. You can already start figuring out which classes to take, which will give you one less thing to worry about — and can help you start getting excited for your first semester of college.

Research college requirements.

Most colleges have some sort of breadth or core requirements to ensure you’re well-rounded. It’s a great idea to get some of these out of the way early on, so that you can focus on your major later. It also doesn’t hurt to write out a general game plan for when you’re going to tackle which requirements. This helps ensure that you don’t end up struggling to take all the core requirements you find challenging in your last semester.

Read course descriptions and make a note of any classes that sound interesting to you.

You can often do this even if the class schedule for your first semester hasn’t been published yet, by looking at the patterns in past semesters. For example, “Irish Poetry From Yeats Through Heaney” may have been offered every fall semester for the last few years, indicating that there’s a good chance it will be offered again.

Narrow down your list of classes.

You can do this by looking for diversity in various forms. For example, don’t choose only classes that involve large amounts of reading, as you may get overwhelmed. As excited as you may be about college classes, don’t take a bunch of hard ones in your first semester — but don’t opt for only easy classes, either. Take classes that interest you, but also ones that fulfill major or core requirements. Remember, it’s all about getting a good assortment and variety.

Create an ideal schedule.

Using the classes you’ve identified, create a schedule that works for you based on when the classes are offered. You might find that there are conflicts between several classes you want to take. Choose your favorite of the conflicting classes, but don’t forget (yet!) about the others. As you’re creating your schedule, stay aware of what you know about yourself. If you’re not a morning person, that 7 AM class might not be a great idea. Or, if you tend to get drowsy in the evening, keep your classes earlier. If you can only focus for a few hours at a time, don’t schedule all of your classes on the same days.

Make a back-up plan.

Some classes fill up quickly, and as an entering freshman, you may not have enough priority to get into them. This is why you shouldn’t just forget about those conflicting classes. If you don’t get into your first choice class for a particular time slot, you’ll already have other options lined up.

Questions? Let us know!