College classes differ greatly from classes in high school. To begin with, you will have more course options to choose from in college. College classes typically carry a heavier course load, operate at a faster pace, and have larger class sizes and less one-to-one interactions with the professor. College students also have more independence where they can dictate their own schedule. To navigate your way to building a schedule, here are 10 tips to consider when choosing your college classes.
- Balance your course load
If you want to finish college in four years, you will need to plan ahead and determine the number of credits you will need to complete each semester to meet the minimum requirements for graduation. Taking too many classes each semester will likely overburden you and leave you feeling burned out and not able to focus enough attention on each class. Conversely, taking a light course load may delay graduation and won’t challenge you enough.
- Try a variety of subject areas
While you may choose courses that lean toward your major, don’t rule out other subject areas without giving them a chance. It’s good to come to college with an open mind and try different courses as you may find a new field of interest you didn’t know you’d enjoy.
- Get your requirements out of the way early
Most schools require students to take general education classes in a variety of areas. Some of these required classes can turn out to be interesting courses that may take your education in a different direction than what you had originally planned.
- Don’t panic about not having your major yet
Many students begin college without having declared a major. Answer the following questions before choosing a major: What interests you? What kind of job are you planning to have? Do you want to attend graduate school? These questions can be answered after your freshman year, after you have decided what you like, and after you have determined the subjects in which you excel.
- Familiarize yourself with the college course catalogue
Read your course catalogue and become familiar with the required courses, majors and courses that go along with your major, and course prerequisites and descriptions. It’s also a good idea to find out who the best professors are for the classes you are interested in and factor that into your course selections.
- Find out if any credits you earned will transfer
If you’ve earned college credit through a CLEP or DSST exam, AP class, or other college coursework, speak with your academic advisor or enrollment office regarding which credits will transfer and potentially cover certain class requirements.
- Improve your writing skills
Learning to write compelling research papers, essays, and term papers will be required in a number of college classes, and in return you will gain a valuable lifetime asset. Taking an English or writing class will help you enhance a number of skills, including punctuation, grammar, clarity, organization, logic, creativity, and your ability to gather, analyze, and communicate effectively—all of which are beneficial skills to use for any job.
- Utilize the registrar’s office
If you need assistance or have any registration concerns or issues, such as not being enrolled in the correct classes, don’t hesitate to call the registrar’s office. Don’t wait until classes start!
- Withdraw from any classes during the official add-drop period
If you opt to withdraw from a class, make sure you do so within the official add-drop period. You can usually receive a full or partial refund from the school. Failing to notify the school or skipping class will only result in you receiving an “F” or a grade of “incomplete.”
- Fulfill your school’s credits requirements
If you want to be considered a full-time student, you will need to check with your school regarding how many credits are required to maintain that status. For many colleges, you need to be enrolled for at least 12 credits per semester to be considered a full-time student and six credits per semester to be a part-time student. Some forms of financial aid are based on the student’s enrollment status, so it’s important to be aware of these requirements.
- Balance your course load
Keeping these tips in mind when choosing your college courses will help you stay organized and on track in helping you earn the college credits you need for graduation.