Choosing classes is a stressful time for everyone, especially newbie freshmen. I’ll be the first to admit I based my schedule on what my friends were taking in high school, but that won’t fly in college. Most colleges have a set curriculum for all incoming freshman, but there’s also plenty of room for finding out if you actually like astrology. Freaked out by the hundreds, or maybe even thousands of choices your university offers? CM knows how to ease your worries.
Seek out Help
First thing’s first, find someone who knows what they’re talking about. Nearly all colleges bless students with an academic advisor, and meeting with him is worth the trek across campus. Rita Rosenthal, a professor of communications and academic advisor at Boston College, advised that incoming freshman to use their resources. “The faculty who are pre-major advisors should be freshmen’s first go to person, and the Freshmen Dean’s office have people who are genuinely concerned about individual students,” said Rosenthal. Taking the time to pick the brain of your academic advisor and faculty on your goals and love for psychology can be extremely beneficial to narrowing down your class choices.
Don’t Rush, but Don’t Put Off the Inevitable
What’s the point of coming to college and taking the exact same classes you took in high school? Freshman year isn’t the time to frantically cram as many gen eds as possible—it’s the time to discover that anatomy is both disgusting and cool. Don’t just get classes “over with”–channel your inner Robert Frost by taking a path you wouldn’t have normally considered. You just might spark a new hobby or make a connection with awesome faculty. But Rosenthal said not to put off a gen ed simply because it’s your weakest area. “Putting off these courses is the perfect way to make a student’s last year memorable in a negative way.” If you absolutely hate math, don’t save it for senior year—no one wants a stressful final semester. You’ll probably skip every class meeting, anyway.
Spice Things Up
Since you don’t want to fly through all your gen eds, variety is key. Spread your schedule throughout the week to save time for sporting events, club meetings, etc. Also, don’t shy away from the lecture classes. Sure, sometimes it’s easier to get instant study buddies in small seminar classes, but the overly enthusiastic professor can really make a lecture intriguing. It’s easy to come into college and want to prove you’re a genius, but Rosenthal said to stick to your strengths in your first semester at school. “There is so much change in the lives of incoming freshman, that the added stress of taking a class that is either too difficult or of no interest to the student could be detrimental.” But if you really want to take chemistry your first semester when you barely got a “C” in high school, balance out your course load with your fav (and best) subjects.
4. Do Your Research
Your academic advisor is the most valuable resource to make your dream schedule. But, hang on to reasonable expectations when you meet with him. Your academic advisor can help you narrow down your class options, but don’t expect him to have the dirt on every single course or professor at your school. Utilize other resources, like class rating websites and wise upperclassmen. Rosenthal said, “Although rumors and reputation should not be the sole criteria for enrolling in a class, these can be helpful in making decisions. Students can take this one step further and check course evaluations.” Upperclassmen will jump at the chance to boast university knowledge.
Going into full panic-mode after the first day of a certain class isn’t rare—a lot of students have second thoughts after committing to classes. Thankfully, most universities have an add/drop period of at least one week where students can alter their schedules. Going back and meeting with your academic dean or advisor is the best plan when the stress pimples come on. Countless options means you’re bound to find a class you’ll fall in love with. Get ready to have your advisor’s email memorized better than your Spanish vocab.