Welcome to the joyful world of college. College will be giving your life a lot of freedom. You will call all the shots and make some choices. Some of the most important choices will be about the classes that you take. In high school, you might have had one or two classes with everything else being a core subject that was decided for you. That is no longer the case. In college, every class is your decision. You will scroll through a course catalog with hundreds, maybe thousands of options. Everyone is going to have their own unique schedules that will make them feel satisfied. It is a whole new world. It can all be very overwhelming and you may not know where to begin. There are a few things that you should keep in mind when choosing a class. Don’t be too stressed about these decisions. If you think it through, you will have a schedule that will be really beneficial and enjoyable.
1. What Is Your Major?
This is kind of an obvious thing to think about. Some schools make you choose your major ahead of time, others will give you time to decide. You may not know exactly what you want to major in, but you should have some general ideas. If you don’t have any idea, you may have to play catch up later on. With your major, there will be some requirements. And some of those requirements will require prerequisites. So you have to be prepared. Make sure you have at least one class, probably more, that will help take care of a major requirements, especially ones that serve as prerequisites. The usual choice will be an intro class, but you might get a freer option. You can choose to have a fun time when you start out, or you can get the more grueling parts of your major over with. Going to college is about pursuing your passion, so make sure you will explore that passion to the max.
2. General School Requirements
There might be a class out there that really does not interest you, but you might have to take it. While you get to choose your own major, there are some types of classes that schools will require you to take. These are meant to make you a well rounded student with a full education. So you may be more of a STEM student, but you might also have to take an art class. You could be an English major, but you will also have to do a science class at some point. Usually there will not be a specific general education requirement, as it would be hard to fit so many people in one class. You are usually given an umbrella label that covers a couple classes. And while the general topic may not be for you, if you look deep enough, you will find something interesting. Try to get these requirements done sooner rather than later so that you don’t have to struggle with it last minute. Have fun in college, but also go out of your comfort zone.
3. Have Some Variety
Let’s say you go into college already knowing what you want to major in. You have memorized every class you have to take and you are ready to get them all done. While you may be interested in these courses, you won’t have a very exciting semester if all of your classes are the same. Try to fit some other curriculums into your schedule each semester to have a good amount of variety. You probably have some interests outside of your major, so take a chance and explore them. You might learn that you want to take up a minor or even another major. It is also possible that you may take a class that does not fulfill any requirement of yours. Maybe there is a specific class that sounds interesting even if it won’t check any boxes. And that is completely okay. College is about exploring. You don’t have to make everything so rigid. If it sounds fun to you, go for it. You will be greeted with so many class options in college, and while you can’t take all of them, you can definitely look through quite a few during your time.
4. Spread Out The Times Of Your Classes
When looking at a class, you may mostly be focused on what is taught in that class. That is obviously important, but that is not the only thing you should think about. Look at the times of all of your classes. Maybe there are two classes that you really like, but they overlap in time. You should know this before selecting so you know that one of them has to go. Or maybe when you look at all of your classes, you have realized that you made one day super jam packed and another day with nothing. A free day may sound nice in theory, but that packed day will be no picnic. It is good to spread out your classes so that you have a balanced week. You don’t want to put all of your work into one day. Also make sure to look at locations, because this is not high school. In high school, five minutes a part was okay because it was just down the hall. Now you have to go across campus. Don’t try to rush, have your buildings close or the times far apart.. A schedule is important so do what is best for you week.
5. Early Bird Or Night Owl?
Everyone has different sleeping patterns. Some people are up bright and early when the sun is out. Other people like to wake up so late that their breakfast should be called lunch. Both of these lifestyles are valid, and should be considered when you are choosing a schedule. High school had a schedule that started and ended at the same time every day. College is not like that. You can take a class as early as eight am and a class as late as eight pm. Think about when your brain works best. A class may sound terrific, but starts really early and you are someone who prefers to sleep in. You’ll say that it won’t be a problem, but it will be a problem. You can make it so that you won’t have to take a class before noon. You also might be the other way around and you go to sleep early. You could have a class that gets out right before you intended on sleeping, and that could mess up your whole night time schedule. There are ways to organize a schedule so that it is mostly morning classes. Sleep is very important for your life and as a factor for college classes.
College is not going to be the easiest time. You will be given a lot of assignments, homework, and tests. Even though you will probably be taking less classes than high school you might be getting even more work. While having assignments is unavoidable, make sure you are not biting off more than you can chew. There might be some classes where there is an extra amount of work. You may have to take some of those classes eventually, but you don’t have to take them all at once. If you do too many heavy work classes at once, that will lead to too much stress and no social life, and these will both take a toll on your mental health. Try to have a mixture of some hard classes as well as some easy classes. You will still have a lot of work to do, but it won’t overload your life. Sometimes, you’ll be able to find some old syllabi online from another time this class was taught. That will give you a good idea of what to expect in this class. Just always make sure you have some balance in your college life.
7. Research Professors
While there may be some classes that you have to take, there are others that may have some more flexibility. You may see a class that checks all of your boxes in terms of interest, but then there’s a professor. You will probably know nothing about the professors when entering college. So if you think you may have a certain professor soon, try to look them up on RateMyProfessor. This website has professors from hundreds of colleges all across the country. Just type in your school and the professor’s name, and you can learn what students think. Those students will write reviews and give an honest opinion about how that professor teaches. If you see overwhelmingly negative reviews, you may not want to take that class. If you can’t find any helpful reviews, ask some older students around campus that you meet for a trustworthy opinion. A class could be about a fascinating topic, but if the teacher is not good, it could ruin your whole experience.
8. Have Some Backups
So you have found your dream classes. That is great, but the search is not necessarily over. You may be picking some courses with a small class size. Depending on how the class section works at your school, this could be a problem. It is possible that the class you want will fill up before you can choose it. You can put yourself on the waitlist, but that is not usually something to count on. That is why you need to research some backup classes as well. These can be classes that fit your major but you planned on taking them later. They could also be classes that sounded interesting but you felt you had more important classes to add to your schedule. These may not be your top classes, but these are not classes that you mind taking. You don’t need that many, and as mentioned earlier, these are mostly for smaller classes. If you are picking a lecture with 200 people, you do not need a backup. Prepare for every scenario so that all classes make you happy.