Mawrter Advice: Choosing Courses, From Claire Petitt ’19

Preregistration and choosing courses might seem intimidating or scary, but when looked at in the right way, it can actually be an exciting process! Many first-years mistake preregistration as a sort of binding contract and think that the classes they end up taking their first semester will end up dictating the entire course of their future academic career. However, as a first-year, signing up for (and taking) classes is really more of a chance to explore the multitude of options available to you and to hopefully learn more about the academic paths that interest you the most. Below are some tips for how to successfully tackle choosing your first courses:

  • Keep an open mind. Even if you think you know which discipline you want to major in right now, don’t lock yourself into taking the prerequisites for that major right away; there are paths of study here that you might never have thought would spark your interest.
  • Give some novel courses a try, even if you’re not sure you’ll like them. Your first few semesters here are a time for exploration. Take advantage of this time to figure out what really interests you.
  • Don’t worry too much about getting your college-wide requirements (CC, SI, IP, ) out of the way in your first few semesters. If you take the time to explore various disciplines throughout your time here, they’ll take care of themselves by the time you’re a senior. It’s a good idea to keep them in mind, but don’t let them completely dictate which courses you end up taking.
  • Have some variety in the classes you choose. You’ll have plenty of time to specialize later.
  • Don’t overload yourself your first semester. It’s a time of adjustment for everyone, and a heavy course load can make an already challenging (though rewarding) time more stressful than it needs to be. That being said, make sure that you do take one or two courses that you know will challenge you. College is a time for great personal growth, and challenging courses that take you outside of your comfort zone will help you become a better student.
  • Choose courses that genuinely interest you. Every discipline is “relevant” in some way, and all will help you to become a better thinker.
  • Ask any older students you know about what they know about particular professors or departments. While the courses you choose are important, it’s equally important (if not more so) to consider the professor and the department you’ll be spending a good portion of your time in.
  • Talk with your Dean! Your Dean is there to help you navigate through the sea of choices available to you.
  • Breathe! You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Take this time to get to know yourself and the school better.

–Claire Petitt ‘19