Course Selection


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  • In most colleges, twelve hours is considered full time under the semester system. For colleges using the quarter system, nine hours is full time. Most scholarships require you to be at least full time to receive the money. However, if you want to graduate in four years, you will need to take more than just full time- approximately 15 hours per semester-twelve hours for a quarter system. There are reasons to go part time. If you are working full time and are returning to school after a long absence, this might be a good idea. Start out slowly to determine how many courses you can handle and then build upon those. Check out department webpages for other valuable info that could be helpful for course selection such as course syllabi, assignments, class notes and instructor evaluations.
  • Ask yourself questions before you create a course schedule each semester. Do you really want to wake up for class at 8AM every day. Do you really want the professor that was so difficult he made your roommate break into hives. Can you really make it from one side of the campus to another in 15 minutes during the winter? These are all things you need to consider. For each class, think about the tasks you will be required to do. For example, in literature, you know there will be a lot of reading, but in mathematics, you know it will be mostly problem solving. Think about balancing all of your tasks to have some of both in your schedule. Most colleges require core courses that might not interest you. Instead of waiting to take these at the end of your college career, consider spacing them out. Combine these dreaded courses with those in your major that you are passionate about or find interesting. Pick difficult courses around the time in which you function the best. Resist the temptation to overload- some students take all of their courses only on Tuesdays and Thursdays- this can get grueling and lead to burnout!
  • It can be difficult for your advisor to keep up with all of the required courses that are necessary for your major. Professors have a lot to do, so make sure that you are doing your part to follow up. Ask lots of questions about your course load and seek information from a variety of sources. Here are a few basic questions you should ask your advisor about every time you register for classes to double check that you are not missing anything. Advisors can also help out with valuable information such as summer jobs, internships, or study abroad opportunities. They can also be great resources for any other questions you might have.
  • Once you have decided on a major, you should map out a general course plan. Include both the courses you are required to take and electives. Doing this will help you figure out how long it will take to get your degree. Ask your advisor about a form to help you do this. Go over the course catalog and undergraduate bulletin before you register. If there are some specialty courses offered, check in with the appropriate department to find out when they are offered. Look over the catalog to find out what courses are of interest. It is taking longer and longer to complete degrees. Your college plan should take into account how long you expect it should take to finish your degree. Make a time line that includes the courses you will take each term. Be sure to give yourself some wiggle room in case a course is not offered during the term you selected in your time lime. Check for a balanced course load in each term.
  • Here is an example of a sample course time line. As you can see, it is a nice balance of different types of courses and still taking one course per semester that relates to a particular major and fulfilling a core course requirement. Noticed how the it starts with a lighter load and then worked up in difficulty. Summer is a great way to complete your course work on time. Summer school in college is not like in high school where it is given as punishment, but actually can help move you along or help you graduate early. Usually the class sizes are smaller and the material is more condensed. This could be an option in your schedule.
  • Sooner or later, you may need to withdraw from a course. Talk to your professor and advisor before withdrawing from a course. Sometimes the decision to withdraw is difficult, but is the best choice. However, withdraw wisely, because you could prolong your graduation. Check the college website to make sure that you do not miss the withdrawal date. How do you know when to withdraw from a course? If you are feeling overwhelmed and would do better if you dropped a course, make sure it is the one that you feel would take the most time from your schedule. Another reason could be that you are failing a course and do not feel that you would be able to pull it up in enough time before the term ends.
  • Your GPA is a the number assigned to each letter grade. Your term or semester GPA is your average for all of the courses you take in a particular semester. Your cumulative GPA is the average for all of the courses you have taken so far. Calculate your cumulative GPA by dividing the total number of points you have earned by the number of credits. Although grades are important, if you focus only on getting the grade you will not be learning for your own sake. Also, if you do not make the grades that you want in the class, you may lose interest or just give up entirely. Grades alone will not sustain motivation. Students that tend to not make good grades will often put the blame on people other than themselves. Most majors have a minimum GPA requirement. To make sure that you are keeping on track, be aware of your GPA each semester- this way you will know where you stand at all times. Many colleges offer “what if” calculators to determine what your GPA would be if you made a certain grade.
  • Course Selection

    1. 1. The Art of Course Selection Knowing the Right Courses to Pick Lunch & Lunch Student Services
    2. 2. RACKING UP THE CREDITS <ul><li>How many courses do you want to take? </li></ul><ul><li>Full time vs. Part time </li></ul><ul><li>Department Websites </li></ul>
    3. 3. CREATING A BALANCE Interests Time Tasks
    4. 4. QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR ADVISOR Which courses are required? Are there prerequisite courses? How often are these courses offered? Are there any requirements for electives? Is there an order to follow? What courses should be taken at the same time?
    5. 5. CHOOSING YOUR PROFESSORS <ul><li>Ask friends, your advisors and students in your major what professors they suggest. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask about general style of teaching, the kind of tests they give, how large the class is, grading procedures and overall level of difficulty. </li></ul><ul><li>You may even want to email the professor or visit during office hours to find out a little more about the course. </li></ul>
    6. 6. MAKING A PLAN <ul><li>Map out a general college course plan </li></ul><ul><li>Check out the course catalog </li></ul><ul><li>Figure out how long it will take </li></ul><ul><li>Make a time line </li></ul>
    7. 7. Fall 2010 Intro Biology I w/ lab Intro Psychology Freshman Seminar World History 1 Stats 3 3 1 3 3 Spring 2011 Intro Biology II w/lab Freshman English Music Appreciation Spanish I Speech Communications 3 3 3 3 3 Fall 2011 Plant Biology World History 2 Intro to Chemistry Calculus Spanish II 3 3 3 3 3 Spring 2012 Developmental Biology Cell Biology Sophomore English Geography Spanish III 3 3 3 3 3
    8. 8. TIME TO WITHDRAW WHEN… <ul><li>You feel overwhelmed with the number of courses you are taking </li></ul><ul><li>You are failing a course and do not believe you can pull it up by the end of the term </li></ul>
    9. 9. KNOW THY GPA <ul><li>You have two GPAs: Semester and Cumulative </li></ul><ul><li>Do not just focus on GPA, but overall learning </li></ul><ul><li>Minimum GPA Requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Keep track of your GPA every semester </li></ul>