Hey everyone! The fall semester is almost here, meaning that it’s time to pick classes! Choosing classes, especially as a freshman, can be challenging. The pressure is on to have a great schedule. Still, choosing classes doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Here are some tips to make the process easier:
Visit an adviser.
The advising office is the best place to go to start choosing classes. Your adviser will guide you and be an important resource throughout your college career. It’s their job to make sure you’re on the right track to reaching your goal: GRADUATION! They’ll show you which classes to take and when, which will make things clearer and much less intimidating. You’ll feel much less anxious about your schedule after you meet with an adviser…
Check the graduation requirements for your major.
When I went to visit my adviser, I was given a convenient sheet with a list of all the classes I needed to take to earn a degree in my major. This sheet will be your lifeline when choosing your current and future classes. It will help you make sure you’re on the right path, and it’ll help you track your progress to graduation. If you don’t have a sheet like this, take notes during your meeting with your adviser so you’ll remember which classes they recommended.
Check the general education requirements.
Similarly, many colleges require their students to be proficient in areas other than their major (math, English, natural science, social science, arts, humanities…). Make sure you incorporate these classes into your schedule. Bonus points if a class will help you meet two requirements!
Pay close attention to the class times.
Be sure to give yourself a break for lunch and to give yourself enough time to walk from one building to another. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you have three classes back-to-back and your stomach is growling because you didn’t have to time to eat lunch or where you have to sprint to your next class that’s on the other side of campus.
Also, try to schedule classes during the time or day when you focus best. If you’re not a morning person, don’t torture yourself by signing up for an 8AM class. For example, I focus best in the morning, so I schedule most of my classes for the morning or early afternoon, with a lunch break, of course. I would not do well in a late afternoon class (by then, I feel like I need a nap!).
Make sure you’re taking the correct level.
Nothing is worse than taking a class that’s too advanced for you! Often, courses for first year students will start with “1”, second year starts with “2”, and so on. Also, make sure the classes you need to take don’t have any prerequisites or corequisites.
Balance intensive and less-intensive classes.
During every semster, there’s always that one super hard class. It’s very important, especially as a STEM major, to pick a good balance between intense classes (like biology, calculus, chemistry, physics, labs…) and less-intense classes (like seminars). It’ll be really hard on you if you take 5 STEM classes at once.
Balance your number of credit hours.
If you’re on a scholarship or an honors program, they may require you to be a full-time student. Twelve credit hours is considered a full-time student load in most schools. Keep these requirements in mind when you choose your classes. But don’t take too many credits, or you might not be able to keep up with your work!
If you can help it, choose the section with the highest rated professor. Don’t freak out if you can’t get the best professor, though. Remember: even “hard” professors are willing to help students who prove themselves to be dedicated. At the end of the day, your grade depends mainly on you, not on your professor, so don’t stress too much about this.
Once you have your schedule…
Once you have your schedule, print it out and put it in a place you’ll see it, or put it as your phone wallpaper. This way, you won’t lose it and you will be able to reference it quickly.
Choosing classes can be a stressful experience. Thankfully, you have resources on campus (like your adviser) to help you through the process.
How do you choose your classes?