At the beginning of college, picking classes can seem like either a daunting task or no big deal, but in reality it falls somewhere in between. It is important to learn skills that will help you get a job after you graduate, but you should also get a chance to explore your interests. Here are some tips for choosing classes that are both worthwhile and enjoyable.
Explore your options. If you are even vaguely interested in a different major, take a class in that topic your first or second semester. As you get farther into your major's curriculum there becomes less flexibility to change your mind and less time to take classes for fun. Even if you don't end up changing your major, you may gain a minor, realize you actually don't like the subject area at all, or simply learn a new skill. Regardless, it is easier to explore other options early in your college career.
Take your arts class abroad.
If you have an arts requirement and are planning to study abroad, kill two birds with one stone. While this may not be applicable to every school, many colleges and universities require students to take an introductory arts course as part of its General Ed or Core requirements. While transferring credits from foreign universities to your home university may be tricky with classes for your major, arts classes usually transfer easily. An arts class will also immerse you in the culture of your chosen destination and might score you some free trips to local museums.
Choose the right teacher.
The quality of a professor can make a huge difference on your experience in a class. Read reviews of teachers before signing up for a class, but take them with a grain of salt – people writing reviews tend to have extreme opinions. If you want to be really good at something, opt to take the classes with a more challenging teacher. In the long run your experience in college matters more than your GPA, and tough professors will teach you lessons you wouldn't have learned in an easier class. Similarly, if you had a great experience with a professor, try to take another class with them. They will notice your interest, and a good relationship with a professor is one of the best things you can get out of college.
Make the most of Gen. Eds.
Take the time to figure out all your options for fulfilling General Education classes. At my school, I was able to take a linguistics class to fulfill a math requirement, which was a great alternative for me since it went toward my major and saved me from having to take calculus. On the other hand, I ended up hating the astronomy class I took to fulfill my science requirement when it turns out I could have taken a web design class, which would have given me a good marketable skill. Required classes don’t have to be a waste of time. You are likely paying several thousand dollars per course; you might as well get something out of it.
Don’t regret classes you have taken.
Before changing my major to journalism I took a lot of required English classes I wasn’t very interested in. Now that I am not an English major, I wish I had spent that time taking English electives I would have actually enjoyed, rather than spending a whole semester pretending to read The Iliad and The Odyssey. However, it is important not to let yourself get too caught up in regretting classes you took earlier on. When people say, “college is about exploring your options,” they don’t mean eight semesters of intellectually stimulating and fascinating classes. They mean that college allows you to figure out what you like and don’t like and to change your mind. A class is not a waste of time if it helped you do that.