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Choosing Courses at College

Ask yourself 5 important questions when choosing your college courses.

After the limited academic options and strict schedule of high school, some students are bewildered by the number of choices they face when choosing courses at college.

But this variety and freedom to choose is one of the best things about college! When choosing courses, just consider these five points:

1. Is this a required course?

Most colleges and universities have specific college courses that all first-year students to take. You should be able to find out what these classes are in a student handbook or similar informational publication.

There are also certain classes you will be required to take to fulfill your college major and college minor. For example, an English major may be required to take a certain number of classes in fields like British Literature, Post-Colonial Literature, and more.

2. Are there prerequisites for this course?

Some higher level college classes have prerequisites, or specific classes that a student must take before he or she is permitted to take a higher level course. For example, if you want to take Calculus II, you may first have to fulfill the prerequisite of taking Calculus I.

Be sure to double-check if the class you want to register for has any prerequisites which you must fulfill when choosing courses. In some cases, if you’ve taken certain high-level classes in high school, like an AP class, you can use this to skip a prerequisite college course. Speak with your academic adviser if you have questions.

3. When does this course meet?

In high school, most students don’t have to consider the time or day of the week a class is offered. When choosing courses at college, however, it’s important to take scheduling into account.

You don’t want to choose two classes that are scheduled during the same time block. At a big college campus, you may even have to take things like location into consideration. If you schedule one class right after another class that’s all the way across campus, will you have enough time to walk to the second course?

4. How many students are in the class?

Consider the class size as you are choosing courses at college. Size of college classes can vary from small seminars of ten people to enormous lecture halls of 200 students or more.

If you would prefer courses that allow for more interaction between students and face-to-face time with professors, then smaller classes may be for you. If, on the other hand, you would prefer to primarily listen to lectures instead of class participation, then choosing courses with a larger class size may be advisable.

5. How motivated are you?

When choosing courses at college, it’s important to take into account just how motivated of a student you are.

Don’t be embarrassed about it, just be realistic! If you’re not a morning person, it may not be best to choose 8 a.m. courses.

While online classes may be appealing, be aware that you will have to be extremely self-motivated to make yourself turn on the computer and “go to class.”

The Final Word

The transition from high school to college is big, especially when it comes to academics. Choose courses that are challenging, but ones you can handle, especially in your first semester at school.

You are in charge of your own academic career, but the above tips should help make choosing courses an easy and even enjoyable experience!