How to Choose Your College Classes

on May 31, 2016

College is exciting for a lot of reasons. You’re on your own for the first time. You feel like a grown up. You’re meeting new people and learning new things all the time. Best of all, you get to choose what you want to study, rather than abiding by a strict curriculum.

But that freedom to decide on your own classes can be overwhelming. How do you know what to pick, anyway?

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re flipping through your course catalog:

Your Interests
There bound to be a few courses that interest you. After all, you now have dozens – if not hundreds – of options to choose from. Sure, college requires hard work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun in the classroom while you’re at it. Relive your childhood dreams of digging up dinosaur fossils by taking an introductory archaeology or paleontology class. Get creative with a pottery wheel in a ceramics workshop. Test out your strength in a martial arts course. Let loose a little and sign up for a class that’s interesting to you.

Your Major … Or Lack of One
If you’ve already declared a major, meet with an adviser and start figuring out which introductory classes you can knock out of the way freshman year. Without taking these prerequisites, you won’t be able to take other required courses later on.

Both declared and undeclared majors should also get a jumpstart on any gen ed requirements. If your school requires two years of foreign language or a certain number of humanities, math and science credits, make sure you include a few on your first-semester class schedule. Putting them off won’t do you any favors later on.

If you haven’t decided on a major, general education requirements can give you a better idea of what interests you and what field you’d enjoy working in. Don’t forget to take our Careers and Majors quiz, too.

You Career Aspirations
Consider which classes might be useful if you’re determined to pursue a certain career path. Journalism majors, for instance, may not be required to take U.S. government or statistics classes, but might find the knowledge they gain useful once they’re in the industry. Those who want to work in business might find classes on communication theory and persuasion beneficial, and healthcare professionals may find some knowledge of a foreign language eases communication barriers with patients.

When You Want to Graduate
Most people head off to college assuming they’ll graduate in four years. But all too frequently, people spend an extra semester or two on campus, spending more money on classes they could have taken years earlier and missing out on real-world work experience. If you’re determined to finish in four years, keep careful track of what credits you have, what you need and which requirements you can finish off immediately. Remember that on some campuses certain mandatory classes are only offered once a year, so if you see a spot open, sign up.

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