How to Choose Your College Classes

College class selection may seem like randomly throwing a dart at a dart board, but in fact, there are many areas that college students should consider when trying to complete a class schedule. From taking care of the minimum standard requirements to deciding on which courses are important for a major, selecting classes can be a challenge.

Before registering for classes, these are several areas to consider for picking college classes.

Basic requirements

The first aspect the college student must consider is the list of basic requirements that the university or state requires. As freshmen and sophomores, students should try to meet as many of these basic required classes as possible. These are the classes that students must take to be granted any degree. Often times there is a specific list of classes that will apply to specific requirements. It is important to consult these lists before choosing classes.

Consider the time slot

Too many students try to arrange their schedule to have Friday afternoons off or a light schedule on a particular day. It is more important to take the right courses from the right instructors rather than having a certain time slot open. For some students who like to sleep in, they hate having early morning classes. In that case, if the same class is offered later in the day, it may be acceptable to make that choice, but never avoid a class because it is offered at a particular time of day.

Have an alternative choice

Especially for underclassmen, the options for courses can be limited because upperclassmen usually have the first choice. Always have a second or even third choice in mind in case a certain class is filled before it is time to register.

Ask others

Ask other students about teachers and classes. Most aren’t afraid to relay their thoughts on a class, especially when it is a basic course in which many sections are offered. There can be a gigantic difference between teachers and requirements. It would be nice to say that it is all about learning, but the fact also is that it is about grade point average. If the same basic algebra class is taught by a teacher that is easy to understand and work with versus one who isn’t, it is better to choose the one that is easier. Another factor can be sharing books; perhaps a friend will allow loaning of his or her book for the next semester class. Talking to other students can help with course selection.

Scholarship requirements

It is important to know what the specific requirements are for any scholarships that have been accepted. Many scholarships require that a certain grade point average is maintained and a certain number of credits are taken. Others may require that at least one class from the major is taken each semester. It is unfortunate to lose a scholarship because a student had to take 16 credits per semester and only took 15.

Don’t overload if possible

Unless the only way to stay on track for graduation is to take a large amount of credits, don’t overload the schedule. Students often think that they can do it all when classes are selected, but the reality is that many classes end up have tests and papers all due at the same time. Be careful of overbooking the schedule.

Take the prerequisites

A common mistake is to not realize that there is a prerequisite for a required course.

Always pay attention to the order or requirements for a major. This is one of the common reasons for having to take an additional semester or two.

Watch for rotating classes

There are many classes within specific majors that are not offered every semester or even every year. If a course won’t be offered again until close to graduation, it is important to take that class when it is offered. It can even mean creating a class schedule around this one class.


Another factor when selecting classes is whether or not a student wants to take it with friends. It can be beneficial to take a class with friends because a student has an instant study group. On the other hand some friends can be a distraction and a student may want to avoid taking classes with that person. So keep in mind these social relationships when selecting classes.

Retiring professors

There are many wonderful professors who have devoted their lives to college instruction. If there is a professor who is planning to retire, it may be the last opportunity to take a class with this educationally influential person. Try to find a way to fit that course into the schedule.

Have a variety of classes

Taking too many classes that are similar to each other can lead to a difficult or boring semester. It is usually best to take a little of each area. For example taking all 12 humanities credits in one semester when a student is a math major may not be the best choice. It would be better to take one per semester to add variety to the schedule. Also, try not to always take all serious, difficult classes in one semester. It is fine to slip in the class on music appreciation or lifetime fitness because it may lighten the load for studying for the more strident classes.

Consult with the advisor

Finally, don’t underestimate the opinions of the advisor. These assigned professors have the student’s best interest at heart and will give the student excellent advice.

Choosing college classes can be challenging especially for college freshmen who have less choices than the upperclassmen, but follow these few tips, and a successful class schedule is in the future.

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