Choosing a university course is about more than getting a class you like.
The course you choose can have important impact on your university career—and even later in life.
If played right, your course selection can make or break your university experience. With this in mind, be sure to choose your classes wisely.
Below, we’ve listed ten of the most important factors you should consider when choosing your college courses.
By keeping this information in mind, you can help reduce unnecessary stress and burden—all while getting the most out of your college experience.
Perhaps the most obvious factor to consider when choosing your course is your major. Typically, you’ll need to fill a certain number of major requirements in order to graduate.
Of course, these requirements depend both on your university and your major—so be sure to talk to your academic advisor about any concerns you may have.
Even if you don’t need a course for your major, choosing a related class can expand your knowledge of the topic. This can make some of your core classes easier and give you a better mastery over the topic.
Not to mention, this will look good for anyone who wishes to attempt graduate school—assuming you do well, of course.
By having more experience and expertise with the topic, you’ll have better standing than those who don’t.
But perhaps the most important benefit of all is that it’s a class that you’ll likely enjoy. If you chose your major because it’s a topic that interests you, you’ll likely be happier focusing on classes related to it.
And because you don’t have a crazy variety of classes to remember, you’ll be able to better organize your studies and keep track of the information you learn.
Your GPA in university is just as important as it was in high school, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on it.
Depending on your university or your major, you may have a harder time keeping your GPA up than others.
If this is the case, it’s time to look into some classes that are going to pad your GPA.
Remember, it’s likely that if you’ve received any scholarships, they are GPA-dependent. If it starts to tank, you could be looking at the loss of several thousands of dollars in aid. Look at this article to get tips on how to improve your GPA.
And it doesn’t matter what your major is. Even if you choose something astronomically difficult like molecular engineering, all your scholarships are going to care about is one thing:
Your GPA on paper.
You can help pad your GPA with the right selection of classes. Though it doesn’t give you as much of an education as you could possibly have, it can help protect your educational investments.
After all, no one wants to leave school with crippling debt.
So how can you help prevent against this?
Start choosing elective classes that you know you’re going to do well in. If you’ve got a few extra slots every semester, consider taking some classes that will be easy for you.
This is commonly done through language courses. Those who can speak Korean, for instance, can start taking beginner-level Korean courses.
The work will be easy, and you’re sure to get an easy A—something that your GPA may desperately need.
If you can’t speak a foreign language, you may want to consider different 1000-level courses each semester.
These introductory courses won’t be as intense as your upper-level major courses, and they can give you a break from rigorous study. Just make sure that you’re choosing something that you can do well in, and don’t go overboard with them.
You still want to maximize your educational opportunities.
If you need study material for the SAT, check out Magoosh, they are awesome.
If you go this route, consider choosing courses that will be easier to do based on your major.
If you’re an upper-level English student, for instance, taking a few lower-level comparative literature courses will likely prove pretty easy.
The content will be similar, but the skills you’ve been honing in your English classes will set you apart from other students.
In this way, you can start choosing classes that pad your resume and suit your interests.
A professor can make or break a class.
A bad professor can make even the best of classes a nightmare—and turn your semester into one big pain.
Whether this means they assign too much work, they grade too strictly, or that they’re just never there and let their teaching assistant do all the work, you’re going to want to avoid these situations as much as possible.
Fortunately, there are several tools that you can use to weed out these classes. Though you may sometimes get stuck with them, with the proper planning, you can avoid these classes as much as possible.
So what tools are available at your disposal?
Let’s take a look at a few ways you can get an idea about a class’s professor.
You’ve Had Them Before—The best way to know a professor is if you’ve had them before. Sometimes, you’ll find that you enjoy a certain professor so much that you want to take their classes again.
Typically, at the end of the semester, your professors will let you know what their classes are for the next season.
If you’ve done well in your professor’s course and you found that you’ve gotten along with them, consider taking their courses again the next semester.
Trust me: it’s much easier to do well when you can keep your professors consistent. You’re used to their teaching and grading styles, and you know what they expect.
This means that you also know what you can get away with and just how much slack you’ll have. This will reduce burden and help you keep your GPA up.
Online Reviews—Websites like www.ratemyprofessors.com are powerful tools that you can use to get an idea about a professor even if you’ve never had them before.
Before choosing a class, it’s almost an unspoken rule that university students will search their professors here.
This technological development has saved many students from being tortured with some of the worst professors the university system has to offer.
From these sites, you can see how other people reviewed certain professors—giving you a better feel of their workload, grading, and overall teaching style. If someone has glowing reviews, it’s likely that their class will be enjoyable.
Ask Friends—Going online is a great option, but if you want to get a review you can trust, consider asking your friends if they’ve had a certain professor before.
Your friends may be able to give you a better idea of just what to expect. They might also even be able to tell you if the professor will be right for you.
Your Other Classes
Don’t let your excitement let you get carried away.
Sometimes a class can sound so intriguing that you sign up without thinking of anything else. This is especially true if you’re already familiar with the professor.
However, university students quickly learn not to pick their classes in isolation.
In other words, you should have a full understanding of your semester schedule before you start picking interesting electives.
An English major, for instance, may find three novel courses to be particularly interesting.
From Victorian Literature to Dickens to a comparative literature course on East Asian literature, it looks like it will be a fun semester, right?
Little did she realize when she signed up for the courses was that the professors would be assigning several nearly 1000-page long novels throughout the semester.
And that they would all be assigned at the same time.
As you can tell, this will quickly get too overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that the content of the courses won’t add up to be too much.
Even if you’re interested in a class, if it’s going to be too much work on top of the work that you have to do already, consider putting it off until a later semester.
If you can handle the extra workload, there’s no harm in taking it. Just be sure that you can strike the right balance.
Any Other Time Constraints
This is true of any other time constraints you may have, as well.
Do you really have time for a novel class with a full-time job?
Would a poetry class be better?
Can you really afford another lab class?
Be aware of how your course load will affect any of your other obligations. Whether you have a job or chair an organization, it’s critical that you choose classes that allow you to participate in other needed activities.
In short, don’t get classes that are going to consume your life. While these may be unavoidable at times, try to keep these to a minimum.
In doing so, you can have a more well-rounded university experience.
Don’t waste your time on courses that aren’t going to help you in the future.
Unless you’re using them to pad your GPA, there’s no point in taking a class that isn’t teaching you anything.
By pushing the limits of your knowledge, you can develop better critical thinking skills and walk out of university with a better education.
If you already know your career path—or if you plan to continue education—this is important.
By having a stellar track record and better-developed skills, you’re more likely to succeed in your goals.
Make sure that the skills you’re learning in your classes will actually come back to help you.
After all, you are paying a lot of money to attend these classes—so they might as well be useful to you.
Granted, this can sometimes be hard to determine, especially if you don’t have a clear life plan. By keeping this in mind, however, you can do a better job at selecting useful classes than you otherwise would.
Is it a Prerequisite?
Oftentimes, when we think of prerequisite classes, we’re thinking in terms of our majors and minors.
And while that’s not wrong, it’s important to realize that some of those electives you want to take might also require additional classes first.
If you’re looking to study a foreign language, for instance, it stands to reason that you’re going to have to start with the beginner levels.
If you want to leave university fluent in a different language, you’re likely going to have to study it for four years—so keep this in mind when scheduling courses.
This extends to more than language, however. You’ll find that sometimes the courses that are most interesting to you are
Make sure that you have a clear understanding of what courses to take to study what you want.
How Many Credits Its Worth
In order to graduate, you’re going to need a certain number of credit hours.
Because of this, it’s always a good idea to know just how many credits a course is worth. Some may be worth three, while others may be worth four.
Additionally, many universities will likely limit the number of credit hours you can take a semester.
Keep this in mind when choosing courses so that you can be sure to have your schedule approved.
Distance from Your Dorm/Other Classes
If you find that you don’t have enough time to get from your dorm to class or from one class to another, don’t take it.
Many professors have strict attendance policies that can drop students from the roll from repeat late showings or absences.
If you’re new to the university, make sure that you understand just where your classes are so that you can plan ahead. If you want to know how to be a better roommate, check this article out.
Cost of Textbooks
Finally, make sure that you’re choosing classes that aren’t going to break your wallet.
Some classes are going to require more or more-expensive textbooks than others. Ask around and search Rate My Professors for a better understanding of textbook costs.
You can likely search your professor’s syllabus online to see which textbooks you might use, or search your university’s bookstore.
Make sure that you’re going to choose an economically-viable option.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to choosing the university course right for you.