Choosing classes in college can be difficult and daunting. Colleges offer a much better selection of courses than any high school could possibly offer so the task of picking a load for the semester can seem overwhelming and downright frightening. It doesn’t have to be! Never fear, CO-ED’s got you covered with some advice to check out before you even step foot on campus. Psh, as if CO-ED has ever let you down.
Shop ’til you drop. Ask any teacher, advisor, or mentor and they’ll all tell you the same thing: read the course catalogue before you decide anything! Every school has a course catalogue and they are your single best source of information regarding requirements for your intended major, a particular class and additionally, an overview of what the class should cover and who the instructor is. Just make sure you know how to decipher what you’re reading. Collegeboard.com explains that categories usually start with the easier classes and end with the more difficult seminars. The College Board also suggests marking the classes in the catalogue that interest you the most or are a requirement for your major. (And, if you don’t know what your major is, the catalogue is a great place to see what kind of classes you might be interested in.)
Get your check-up. Did you take placement tests, community college classes, or an AP test for a subject in high school? Then Collegeboard.com says you may have already filled some requirements at your school. Double check to see if you have any pre-existing college credits before you sign up for an English class that Honors English your senior year of high school has already taken care of.
Use the advisors like the whores that they are. It may not always seem like it, but advisors are employed to serve you (Yes, you!) and are usually able to answer all five hundred of your questions- just so long as you make an appointment first.
Crash Course. Ehow.com, which offers 'Clear Instructions on How To Do (just about) Everything', suggests signing up for classes early and signing up for more classes than you plan on taking that semester. Lindsay Grant laments that she signed up late her first year of school at Santa Barbara Community College and 'everything was full and I ended up in some crappy classes'. Remember, however, that just because a class is full doesn’t mean you can’t still attend. Ehow.com recommends placing yourself on a waiting list for full classes or even 'crashing' a course that you’re not signed up for with the intention of enrolling once someone else inevitably drops the class.
Just because they’re good looking doesn’t mean they’re good… in class. 'A big part of picking classes is picking the professor,' says Vassar Student Fellow Rachel Cruz. 'Teaching styles can really rub people the wrong way. Some professors have research to do so sometimes teaching is secondary.' Having a crappy professor could ruin a great class. Likewise, having an awesome professor can make a dull class exciting and maybe even steer you into a career focused in an area you never gave a second glance. Check to see if your school has a departmental fair where professors and upperclassmen are stationed to answer your questions about classes. If that’s not available, take a walk to the professor’s office to talk to them. 'Even if you’re at a big university, don’t be afraid to go to the department. You can get a feel for the professor and the department just being there,' says Cruz. 'Its not like high school; now you usually have a choice between professors, unless you have a requirement.' Too scared to talk to your professors? At the very least, ask students at your school about their favorite and least favorite professors before you enroll in any class. Important questions like “Did you actually learn anything about the subject?”, “Did the professor bore you to death?”, and “Are they cool with students walking in twenty minutes late and hung over?” are good starting points. Don’t forget to also hit up ratemyprofessor.com to see how they stack up against the other faculty at your school in everything from difficulty to looks.
Abuse your privileges. 'Use your campus as a resource!' commands Rachel Cruz. Scared to take that math class because it's not your forte? Chances are your school has on-campus tutors just waiting to be taken advantage of or even a math study group where you might find a hot study buddy. Also, check to see if your school has any classes that they’d like Freshman to take that introduce them to the college life such as the University of Arizona’s 'University 101' class, which all incoming Freshman are enrolled in. The class will not only give you a heads up on where to get the best midnight snacks and what get-to-know-you event is going on that week, but also where to go to print out your essay when your printer breaks down thirty minutes before its due.
Know thy self. Let’s be frank, not a lot of kids want to get up at 6 AM just for class. Hell, most of us go to bed at 6 AM. If you know that you won’t make it to a 7 AM class, and you can help it, don’t sign up for it. Jason LaForest, a University of Arizona student agrees, 'I pick my classes by the time. If the class starts before ten I won’t even consider taking it.' Some professors won’t tolerate students being even one minute late for class and rarely attending won’t help you in the long run either. So, do yourself a favor and if you can, take the class at a later hour. Your grades (and hang over) thank you.
Primary electives. OK, so even if you’re majoring in Art, not every class you take is going to be a drawing class. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to branch out and take an elective or two. This doesn’t have to be a chore. Chances are if you have a hobby, there’s a class for it. Love movies? Contemporary Film might just have a slot open for you. Like to tango? Dance is most likely an option. The great thing about college is that you have more electives than the Drama and Home Ec. of your high school years. Amanda Rogers from Arizona State thought Personal and Exploratory Writing sounded interesting, and liked the class so much she made Creative Writing her minor. 'It just turned out to be something I never knew I enjoyed until I took the class.'
Balancing act. College is supposed to be sort of fun. Don’t overload yourself with classes. Be honest: you’re not going to want to spend every waking minute doing schoolwork. Figure out if you’re being realistic with the class load you’re taking. Can you really take six classes, write for the school paper, work at the coffee shop, watch Grey’s Anatomy, and keep tabs on your significant other? Probably not. Lindsay Grant of SBCC comments that choosing classes around her job was 'a bitch, but worth it'. 'I work, so I decided to have class just two days a week,' she explains. 'Its easier to get things done that way and not feel completely frazzled.' Try to balance the different courses you take as well. Don’t take every lit class or every math class you need in one go or you could end up hating school and your lack of social life. 'Generally, first year students don’t know what’s going to inspire them and work with them the most,' says Rachel Cruz. It's good for students to keep an open mind to enhance