Picking classes in college is a whole different animal from high school. You have a lot more freedom in times, professors, and even courses to take. I’ll teach you the expert way to pick classes in college so that you don’t have to learn the hard way.
Pick Classes: Timing
If you’re on the cross country team, in ROTC, or have any other obligation that means you have to wake up early every morning, you should pick classes early in the day since you’re already up. Otherwise, avoid 8 AMs (and 9 AMs) wherever possible. You may be used to it from highschool, but very few college students show up and stay awake/focused in their early classes.
Also, consider when you’re gonna eat lunch. Eating lunch is very important to staying focused in your afternoon classes. Otherwise, you may feel groggy and your attentiveness will suffer. Timing your schedule properly will greatly affect your grades and your happiness.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of having classes too late. You’re gonna want dinner, usually with friends, and to hang out. You’re also gonna want to do your homework at night. Classes that start around 5 PM or after should be avoided if possible.
I made several timing mistakes my freshman year. 4 out of 5 days had 8 AMs and two those days had a class that started at 5:30 PM. I didn’t have much of a choice when picking my schedule originally (I got unlucky), but it did severely impact my grades in those classes. Keep this in mind when you pick classes.
Pick Classes: Best Professors
People often have different opinions on what makes a professor better than others. But, I think this tip is the most important when picking classes. So, however you define the best professor, check up on them.
The best professors usually have the best grades in their classes. Find out where your school posts grade distributions and check the average GPA, according to the GPA scale as well as the percentage of As and Bs earned. Also, the dropout rate by professor is very important. A high dropout rate can skew the average GPA.
Also, check the professor’s reviews. Rate my Professors is the most used system for this, but there are a few others. It may be helpful to Google your professors’ names as well. Some schools have their own sites and groups to review professors which are definitely worth checking out.
Ask people who they’d recommend if they’ve taken the class before! This is especially helpful for classes with difficult concepts. Even if you don’t get that professor, their review material will likely be very helpful.
Check the syllabus! Some professors may have mandatory attendance and fail you if you miss too many classes. I would avoid these profs, personally. However, if you get extra credit for showing up (my favorite prof freshman year did this), I would sign up for them. You can also see extra credit opportunities, test types, and how much each grade is weighted.
During my first semester, I didn’t get much of a choice on my professors. I got a couple of great ones and a couple of poor ones. I picked much, much better second semester. Also, try to avoid anyone teaching their first year at the school, they tend to be harder. Remember that when you pick classes.
Pick Classes: Courses
You get some freedom with the courses that you take in college. Pick ones that interest you and contribute to your degree. You should also try to expand your knowledge. You’ll be able to add more skills to your resume and become more versatile in the workforce.
Some courses are offered online. Depending on the college you attend and who’s ‘teaching’ the online course, you may have to pay extra. If it costs more, I wouldn’t take it. But, the flexibility of an online course offers is great. You can work it into your schedule whenever you want and doesn’t require a very good professor. Just make sure you remember to do your work for it!
Choosing courses I’m interested in is what really makes the money I’m paying for them feel worth it. Learning new and complex concepts captures my attention and keeps me going to class. Online classes have also boosted my GPA and helped me be more flexible on timing. It also made picking classes easier because they don’t really fill up and I have more time options in a day.