How to Decide which Courses to take

You’ve been flipping through the catalogue or staring at a computer screen, reading minute details on classes for hours, and you have no idea what courses to choose.  For the majority of students attending post-secondary schools, deciding which courses to take can be stressful and confusing times. 

If you don’t consider carefully, you may end up taking courses you hate or courses that do not help you in any way.  If you are having a frustrating time, use the following tips to help you decide which courses to take.

Double-Counting

Many students want to finish college ASAP because they’re either paying for it themselves or their parents are paying for it (and are constantly “encouraging” them to finish with school).  If you are one of these students, one way to decide on which courses to take is to always keep in mind that some courses can double-count towards your degree.  This means the course will count twice—once toward your general education (which everyone has to take) and once toward your major.  Business majors, for example, can usually double-count a math class or an intro to business class.

Using a Community College Near You

Another tip for those who are at a university and are trying to finish early or save money is to take some general education classes at a community college.  You can do this while you are home over the summer at your local community college.  How do you choose which classes to take at a community college?  Usually, you can look at the classes being offered by your university and if a class you really want doesn’t fit into your schedule, then see if the community college will offer it over the summer.  Classes like communication or speech, composition, U.S. history, and critical thinking are usually offered at community colleges.  You can also just save a class to take at a community college if you already know for sure it will be offered there.  After you have decided which courses to take at a community college, go to www.assist.org to see if the class you want to take can be transferred to your university.

Know What’s Out There and Know What Counts

It is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with what’s being offered at your school.  Whether you are attending a community college or a university, being aware of your choices will help you decide which courses to take.  Awareness of your choices, however, doesn’t always help with the decision-making process.  You also have to know what counts toward your general education and what counts toward your major.  You can always read more about the courses required for your general education and your major on your school’s website.  Or you can request information from your advising office.  As you go through school, check off or X out any of the courses that you have taken.  This will help you keep track of your degree progress.

Enjoyment vs. an Open Mind

When it comes to general education, there are pretty much two ways of looking at it: (1) keep an open mind and test topics that you aren’t sure of.  Giving courses a chance may lead toward something you have never even considered before.  Many students discover their love for certain subjects through this process.  (2) Choose only courses you like or you won’t enjoy them and you will most likely not learn a lot.  This is true in some situations, but not in all situations.  You may find many classes that you are required to take unenjoyable, but you will have to take them anyway.  So it’s up to you which courses you choose.  One advice to keep in mind, though, is: choose a class for yourself, not because your friends are also taking it.

Choosing the Right Professor

Once you have decided which courses to take, your next step is to decide which professor to take them with.  Go to www.ratemyprofessors.com to check out the professors who are teaching the classes.  Just keep in mind that the ratings ARE based on opinions, and your opinion of the professor may differ from those who have had him/her before.

Deciding which courses to take can be a hassle at times, but if you follow the tips above, it should be an easier task.  Once you get used to choosing courses, the process will become easier and easier.  And then, once you have knocked off some classes from your list, the process becomes even easier.