Pick Classes Wisely
One of the joys of college is the ability to pick and choose which classes you are interested in taking. Most schools have a set of core, foundation, areas of study that all students must complete in order to get a degree. However, you can often still choose specific class preferences from required categories, such as social sciences, humanities, art, science, etc. My suggestion would be to focus on completing these requirements in your first two years of college. Once you have declared a major, you will then be required to choose from other class options that will lead to getting a degree in that field. Generally once students have begun the courses in their major, the choice options are more limited because there are specific classes everyone in that major has to take in order to graduate. However, you may still be able to choose when to take required classes. This is key because often required courses will range in reading and writing difficulty as well as studying intensity.
Picking classes wisely is vital for any semester. Knowing in advance what level courses you are taking and what is required of each of those classes can aid drastically in your overall success for the entire semester. For example, if you are a student who is horrible at math and science but loves reading and writing, do not plan to take all of your required math and science courses in the same semester. Determine what you think you can realistically handle and realize that keeping a respectable GPA is more important than knocking out all the most difficult courses you can in one semester. That said, do not procrastinate taking the more challenging classes for too many semesters. You will want to get them behind you in a reasonable amount of time, especially if there is an off-chance that you might have to re-take one. Also, keep in mind that many programs offer different elective course options. These can be spread out across your undergraduate career to make a more balanced, enjoyable, and manageable schedule. When your are picking your classes for an upcoming semester, do not take six classes that you know will be very difficult so that in the spring you can take four super easy electives in order to enjoy the weather more. This is not smart! This will lead to way too much stress for one semester and way too much free time in another. The reverse is true too, you do not want to avoid all the difficult classes your first few years, and then in your junior or senior year be stuck taking all the classes you should have spread throughout the semesters all along.
A second part of picking classes is to look up the professors who teach them. This is something students often bypass, but sites like ratemyprofessor.com or myedu.com exist to help students learn about the experiences past students have had in their professors’ classes. Based off of other students’ experiences, you can more confidently determine whether or not you would be able to handle the demands of a course. Keep in mind that you cannot trust everything you hear on these websites because anyone can say anything about their professors. Remember it isn’t always the professor’s fault if someone gets a bad grade in a class. However, both ratemyprofessor.com and myedu.com show the grade point averages professors gave their classes in the past as well as ratings from past students for areas like helpfulness, easiness, and even hotness. While, you cannot trust what people might personally say about a professor, grade distribution charts do not lie, and generally students want to give each other fair warning if a teacher is unnecessarily hard or tell people if they had a teacher that was really good. These websites can be great tools if you are trying to decide between two different professors that are offering different sections of the same course and one gave 65% A’s last semester with reviews that say things like, “As long as you go to class and do the reading you will do fine” or “He’s a tough grader but goes over everything he tests on in his lectures,” while the other gave 35% A’s last semester and has reviews that say things like, “DON’T TAKE HIM! There is a big paper that is worth 50% of your grade, and he is horrible at explaining things!” or “He has a strong accent and I couldn’t understand anything he said.”
A final aspect of picking classes is picking the best times to take them. This is another reason college is so great. If you are not a morning person, no one is forcing you to take a class starting at eight in the morning in every semester of college. On the other hand, if you love the mornings and find you work best if you get an early start to the day, take morning classes and free up your afternoons. Sometimes you may have to settle for less ideal timeslots depending on the times when classes are offered, but in general you should be able to mold your class schedule to your preferred time of day. Picking class times that work best for the way your brain and body works makes all the difference. It is also smart to make sure your classes are not back-to-back with only a 10 minute gap and a bus ride away. To avoid problems like this, it’s a smart idea to look at your classes’ locations on the campus and make sure you can realistically get to them all on time. Being able to pick classes and professors is a treat in college. It is fun to explore different types of classes and experience different professors’ teaching styles. But the key to planning out a great semester is to register for classes that will provide a balanced work load and to get a spot in the better professors’ classrooms. Don’t let the picking classes part of college stress you out; be smart about it. Having a balanced class schedule will help you create a well-balanced life in college overall.