For many students, choosing which freshman classes to take your first semester in college can be almost as daunting as deciding which school to attend. While you may have been able to choose a few of your high school courses, you likely have never been totally in the driver’s seat when it comes to creating your schedule.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the hundreds of courses available, you’re not alone.
As a first-semester freshman, it can be helpful to know where to start in creating a solid schedule that will set you up for future success. The tips in this guide will help you accomplish that goal.
Start With Your Advisor
Before you make any choices about your freshman classes, make an appointment with your academic advisor or college admissions counselor. Your advisor will not only answer your questions but also help you think strategically and create a roadmap for your coursework to ensure you graduate on time.
Because your advisor has considerable experience working with freshman students, they’ll prompt you to consider issues you’ve likely never thought about, such as how to start preparing now if you wish to study abroad or take on an internship later. They’ll also connect you with resources to help you achieve your academic goals.
Ask About Course Requirements
Make sure you familiarize yourself with which freshman classes you are required to take in your first year of college.
For example, some schools require you to take one or two semesters of freshman math and English to help you establish a knowledge base for future coursework. You cannot skip these required courses, so it’s best to factor them into your decision-making when creating your first-semester schedule.
Look Into AP, IB, or CLEP Credit
Some schools offer students the opportunity to earn credits by “testing out” of freshman classes with College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests.
If you took Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams in high school and scored well, colleges may also be willing to give you credit for some of your core requirements. Among the top 10 national universities, only two of them do not award course credit for AP exams: Brown University and California Institute of Technology.
AP, IB, and CLEP credit saves you time and money by accelerating your education and allowing you to explore other courses you may be interested in.
Tackle Hefty Requirements Early
Depending on your school, some of your core class requirements may encompass multiple semesters. For example, Columbia University requires students to take four semesters of a foreign language.
You don’t want to put off these extensive requirements until later, as this may interfere with your ability to take classes for your major. Start tackling these required classes now to avoid being overwhelmed in future semesters.
Consider Your Interests and Preferences
It’s a good idea to leave room in your schedule for at least one class that allows you to explore your interests, as this can help you avoid burnout and give you something to look forward to. However, also consider your skills and preferences.
For example, if you’ve got test anxiety, consider freshman classes that involve projects or papers instead. Also, think about schedule timing and whether you’re alert enough in the morning to pay close attention to your freshman math professor. If not, choose a different class time.
Setting Yourself Up for Success in Your Educational Journey
It’s important to realize that your first-semester schedule will set a course for your educational journey.
As you choose your freshman classes, aim to strike a balance between being responsible with your course choices and finding joy in what you are studying. Doing so will help you stay on track toward timely graduation while cultivating knowledge, skills, and passion in your educational career.