The process of selecting classes is sometimes a no-brainer, sometimes stressful, and always exciting because of all the new things you’ll get to learn and subjects you’ll get to explore. As a first year, it’s hard to believe that it’s already been so long since I picked my very first college classes here. Although this was only my second time selecting classes, I kept a few things in mind when doing so, which I think might be useful to share.
1. Research professors
You’ve probably heard about Rate My Professors already, but it’s actually quite a useful informal tool when you’re first planning on which classes to look at. Not every student’s learning style is compatible with every professor’s teaching style, so make sure you do your research to pick the class and the professor that best suits you. There’s no better source than previous students who have taken the class, which is what makes sites like Rate My Professors so useful.
Of course, it might be an even better idea to actually reach out in person to students who have taken a certain class, as they’ll be able to answer any specific questions you have and provide you with another perspective. A good place to start might be the TAs for the current classes you’re taking, as they will probably have useful information about the other classes and professors of a certain subject.
2. Think twice about overloading
I know it might seem tempting, or even expected of you to take on a heavy academic load in order to work through more classes faster or just because you want to take a large number of classes, but it’s completely possible to fulfill your major/minor/cluster requirements while exploring classes outside of these without overloading during your four years of college. Even if you’re undecided about what you want to major or minor in, it might be useful to start thinking about this and make a tentative plan of the next year or two, looking at which classes are offered in which semesters, when you can fulfill your core curriculum requirements, and whether there are any other classes you want to take purely out of interest.
You’ll probably find that you can get everything you need to get done, along with exploring new academic interests, easily without overloading (or overloading only a few times). You’ll have extracurriculars, a social life, and maybe even a job to balance, so assess whether it’s really worth it for you to take six classes a semester. It’s all about prioritizing and doing what’s right for you, so use all the advice you get with yourself in mind!
3. Consider CAS courses
CAS (College of Arts & Science) courses are a group of classes focused on personal development, and might be the perfect addition to your course list. These classes are only 1-2 credits, and can provide you with a wide variety of non-academic skills. This semester, I took part in the Rising Leaders Class, which taught me so much about the philosophical nature behind leadership, provided me with ways to enhance my own leadership skills on campus, and allowed me to get to know a group of similarly motivated young leaders from my class.
Additionally, some CAS classes can be used to complete a citation in community-engaged scholarship, which is conducted by the Rochester Center for Community Leadership. If you’re interested in community service and learning about the best ways to conduct this, this might be worth looking into! It includes taking some CAS classes, which you can take at any time in your academic schedule, as well as a capstone community service project. This is a fantastic way to round out your skill set and contribute to the community, all while getting academic credit for it! Be sure to explore the list of CAS classes, and drop by RCCL in Lattimore Hall if you’d like to learn more about the citation.
4. Mix up class difficulty
When choosing your classes, try to make sure they’re balanced in terms of their rigor and workload. This isn’t to say that you should only take classes that are all the same difficulty, but rather that it might not be the best idea to choose four classes that will all require you to do an immense number of readings or weekly homework, as this could easily burn you out. Instead, if you know you’re taking a difficult class next semester, try to choose other classes that will give you enough time to give a little extra attention to studying for that class while still allowing you to do well in your other classes.
So before the next semester starts, take a look at your classes and assess whether there’s any changes you think might need to be made so you can explore your interests and flourish academically while being mindful of your capabilities and other commitments. Good luck!