Strategically planning your course load for your first year of college can help you establish a strong foundation for the rest of your college career. Instead of randomly choosing classes, you may want to get some of the general college requirements taken care of so you can focus on specialized courses when you declare your degree.
If you have taken a foreign language in high school, signing up for a college foreign language course will keep that educational ball rolling. It will be easier to continue with this line of study when the language is still fresh in your mind. Attending foreign language classes later in your college career may require you to take a refresher course to relearn the information that you forgot over time. Foreign language is often a requirement to receive your degree, so you might as well get it out of the way.
Math and Science
Depending on what degree you’ve chosen or even the direction you think you may be headed, you will most likely need math and science courses. It’s advisable to take lower-level math and science courses during your freshman year, as these are often prerequisites for more advanced courses. For example, you may need to take pre-calculus before heading to calculus. You may want to schedule astronomy, biology or chemistry in the first year, too. If you find math and science to be some of the more difficult lines of study, plan on taking these courses while you sign up for easier courses the same quarter or semester to even out the workload.
Most colleges require an English class as part of their graduation requirements. During your first year, you may want to cross this course off your list. Although each college offers different courses, generally you can find English composition, literature or interdisciplinary writing courses available to freshmen.
Humanities courses are also a requirement for graduation. The good news is that you’ll find a wide variety of humanities courses to choose from, so you can pick and choose ones that interest you. These courses include psychology, sociology, geography, economics, political science, international studies and women’s studies.
When you’re looking at options for your freshman-year courses, the number of credits you sign up for needs to be part of the equation. You don’t want to sign up for too many credits, especially your first couple of quarters or semesters. Your work and grades will surely suffer if you feel strained to keep up. Start with two or three classes and see how it feels.
It’s in your best interest to get to know your advisor well and meet with her often. She can help you plan your course load efficiently and give you helpful tips to assist you in becoming more successful in your college career. An advisor can also guide you through the admissions process and keep an eye on your progress so you don’t miss valuable classes or information.
- Northwestern University: First-Year Courses
- University of Washington: Areas of Knowledge
- University of Washington: Overview of Requirements for an Undergraduate Degree
- Rose Hulman Institute of Technology: Your First Year of College: 25 Tips to Help You Survive and Thrive Your Freshman Year and Beyond
- Virginia Western Community College: College Survival Tips 101: Surviving Your Freshman Year of College
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