Life in college is hard, especially when you’re a freshman. Life in college is even harder when you have no idea what classes to take or what professors will interest you the most. The majority of the time, you have a list of required classes that you have to take which have absolutely nothing to do with what you want to major in. Although you may view it as “annoying” I can guarantee you that by senior year, you will be thankful for being pushed to take these classes. There have been so many classes which have taught me so much about myself and about the world. Classes in college are more time consuming in terms of the workload, however, they contribute to the growth which is needed during those 4 years of hard work.
I have a lot of underclassmen friends that often turn to me and ask me advice about which classes they should take. Although some of them are in my major, others are simply looking for guidance because they feel uneasy about some core classes that are required. In my case, I didn’t have a lot of upperclassmen friends when I was a freshman, which negatively impacted my ability to choose classes. Freshman year, my GPA suffered because of the heavy workload I had inflicted upon myself. I know many of you think you are invincible and capable of tackling on these classes, but rest assured I thought the same thing and was proven wrong. So, in order to prevent YOU from making the same mistakes I did, I have come up with some simple tips when it comes to decision making.
1. Make sure you have the book of all the classes that are offered at our college. Not the ones offered at another college but OUR college. This book has been tremendously helpful for me because it not only lists all the classes that are available, but it gives you all the information you need (ex: the number of credits, the semesters that it is offered, pre-requisites, and a descriptive summary of the class itself.)
2. Make a list of all the core classes which are absolutely required (ex: math and science) and make a list of all the classes which are required for your desired major(s). Usually there are pre-requisites for some of the major classes so writing down the list will help you distinguish which classes require them and which don’t.
3. If you are absolutely sure about what you want to major in, sign up for some of your major classes during the early semesters. You absolutely do not want to be taking 300 level classes during your last year when you are applying for colleges and for jobs.
4. It will not hurt you if you take classes outside of your major and outside of the core curriculum. If it weren’t for my curious nature, I would have never picked Criminal Justice as my minor. If I could do it all over again, I would have taken CJ classes sooner and would have done a double major!
5. Do not be afraid of online classes. It wasn’t until my second semester sophomore year when I learned that they were available. I currently work full time, 7 days a week and taking online classes every semester has changed my life. The last time I was in school more than 2 days a week was sophomore year. Even if you enjoy being in school, online classes are very flexible and work with your schedule.
6. AVOID SOCIAL SCIENCE CLASSES WHEN YOUR SEMESTER SCHEDULE IS LOADED. I know some people assume that a psychology or sociology 100 class will be easy but trust me, the amount of reading required will paralyze your brain if you are already taking a lot of classes.
7. Feel free to use https://www.ratemyprofessors.com/. It has helped me in ways that I cannot explain. I’m not very picky about professors because I am a teacher’s pet, but I am however picky about the workload. Knowing what’s required from you before signing up with save you the stress, the tears, and textbook money (believe me).
8. Don’t be afraid to ask your professors or advisors for help. I might’ve visited my advisor once or twice in the last 4 years and that really damaged my work experience.
9. Do not be afraid of your professors, especially at SJC. They are all so pleasant and understanding to work with. I have never had any negative experiences with any of my professors. No matter the workload and no matter the differences in opinions, they are there to help you if you need it and they are tremendously understanding. Do not listen to the negative stereotypes.
10. Always keep track of the classes you have taken, plan to take, and are registered for. You do not want to wait until last minute and realize that you did not take enough credits to graduate on time.
11. If you speak another language, I highly recommend signing up for the NYU language test. I came to this country at 7 years old and I just took the NYU language exam in Albanian a few months ago and passed it with flying colors. Not only does it look good on your resume but you can receive up to 12 extra credits which may help you graduate on time!
Overall, the most important thing about planning for classes is being organized and open to all possibilities. College isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to class planning, but all classes contribute to some form of personal growth. In the end, when you look back at your years in college, you won’t remember the grades you got but you’ll always remember the important life lessons you learned.