How to Choose Your First Semester of College Courses

As soon as you begin college, you will discover a new sense of freedom. For the first time, you can choose your classes as well as when you take them. However, this freedom can also negatively impact your graduation schedule if you do not choose wisely.

Here are several tips to keep in mind as your freshman year approaches and you choose your first semester of college courses.

Understand course restrictions

Items like prerequisites are often clearly described in your course guide or on your registration website. You may also have a minimum and/or maximum number of credit hours you can enroll in. Note these restrictions as you plan your first semester of college courses. Here are some great tips you may find useful on how to prepare for college classes.

Select an academic strategy

Certain students prefer to immediately register for classes in their major, while others prefer to finish their general requirements first. Regardless of major, you must complete courses in subjects like economics, English, foreign language, history, math, and science. However, you may have flexibility in when you choose to do so.

Consider first taking classes in your major

With this strategy, you can quickly determine if you truly enjoy the subject. You are also free to begin meeting professors and students in your major, as well as to become involved in clubs and professional organizations immediately. This may help you earn internships and real-world experience more quickly. This is some great information on picking a major early in college.

Or consider first completing your general requirements

Certain students prefer to finish their general requirement courses as soon as possible. If you opt for this route, you will be eligible for most higher-level classes sooner. This can allow you to think about your major without wasting time taking courses you will not need (if you change your major).

If you are 100% certain about your major, it may be best to enroll in those classes right away. You can then start working toward your first internship and job. But if you are still deciding, start with your general requirements, and join as many clubs as you can. With clubs, you can learn about different career paths without taking full courses. 

Understand class schedules

Most general requirements are offered each semester or quarter. However, some higher-level classes are only available during certain semesters—and only if you pass specific requirements first. It is very important to flag the courses you will need for your major and to have a general idea of when you will complete them. Many students do not graduate on time simply because they thought they could take their final class during the spring semester, only to realize that it is exclusively offered in the fall. 

Keep your evenings free

It may be tempting to sleep late every day by scheduling your first semester of college courses for the afternoons. However, some students prefer to keep their evenings free to join clubs and professional organizations. Clubs can be one of the most critical aspects of your college education, as you can explore real-world work and network with professionals in your field. It is very easy to become involved with clubs, and you may even meet new friends. These are are few popular campus jobs that can help you explore college majors.

Work with your academic advisor

Your advisor will be able to answer your questions and help you determine your curriculum each year. He or she may also be able to recommend professors, extracurricular activities, or even tutors if you need extra academic assistance with a particular course.