Thursday, May 31, 2012

5 Talking Tips To Help Teens with Deciding What College Classes to Take

What classes should your college student take?

It’s always great to hear college students regarding advice about the college process.
Today’s guest post is from Katheryn Rivas, who is an English major.

One of the first decisions that your college-bound child will be faced with upon matriculation is creating a class schedule. In my own experience, the process becomes less complicated as semesters progress, but this, I think, is largely because of trial-and-error, learning from mistakes that I made in previous academic years.

Here are a few tips that I would give to first year students who are selecting classes for the first time.

1. Understand that a huge percentage of undergraduates change their majors at some point, so make your class selection diverse.
Many bright-eyed entering freshmen think that they know precisely what they want to major in and what their career trajectory will be like from the first day of class onwards. However, reality works a little differently than do our plans for the future. If you are pretty sure what you want to major in before you enter college, that’s great! However, leave open the possibility of changing your major by not taking too many classes in your prospective discipline when you first start out. Of course, do take some, but keep things balanced and diverse to get a taste for what different fields of study are like.
2.  Figure out what your peak periods of productivity are when choosing class times.
Dates and times should also play an important part in your course scheduling. Are you the type who would rather have a ton of classes on two or three days and have absolutely no classes on some days? Or would you rather have a reasonable amount of classes spread out throughout the week? Personally, I preferred exhausting myself on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that I could have leisurely class days on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This schedule enabled me to wake up late and hit the books hard preparing for tests on the days that weren’t so packed. However, this setup doesn’t work for everyone, so figure out how you study and work to determine your schedule.
3.  Place a heavier emphasis on general degree requirements your first year.
Many first-year students will make the mistake of taking only those classes which interest them. They figure that they can complete general requirements later in the college career. But what will end up happening is you may put off these requirements for so long that you will suddenly realize, sometimes as late as senior year, that you have a bunch of general courses left to graduate. Don’t end up in this position (like I did) in which you run the risk of taking an extra semester to graduate just because you put of something silly like a phys ed course.
4. Do your course research online to gauge what professors are like in class.
One of the most important factors in doing well in any given class is having a professor that is engaging and accessible. One of the best ways to get classes with the best professors is to visit sites like RateYourProfessor.Com to see which instructors are the best teachers. Reviews will also help you steer clear of professors who are too immersed in their research to care about their class. At the same time however, do take some student reviews with a grain of salt. Some students are simply incensed that they got poor grades, and may take it out on the professor. I’d say believe the reviews that are consistently complaining about the same thing. Don’t base your conclusions on just one or two comments.
5. Take advantage of the “course shopping” period.
Although many universities are different, most institutions encourage “course shopping” during the first two weeks of classes. That is to say, students are free to attend several classes that they aren’t officially signed up for, or drop classes they don’t particularly like, to sign up for others. If your institution does have this flexibility, be sure to take advantage of it. Don’t get stuck in a class that you already know from the beginning you are going to hate.
These are just a few things to keep in mind when creating your course schedule. Be sure to talk to other students who have taken classes you are interested in, and also consult with academic advisors so that you are on track to graduate within a certain period of time. Above all, enjoy the flexibility in the decision-making process of picking your own classes for the first time!

This guest contribution was submitted by Katheryn Rivas who particularly enjoys writing about online universities.  Questions and comments can be sent to:

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