College classes are different from high school classes, but how they are different is subject to opinion. Some say that college is nothing but piles of reading and memorization, while others say classes focus primarily on critical writing and critical thinking. Everyone’s college experience is different, so if you choose your classes wisely, you will be successful.
Most colleges and universities have general education requirements that students must fulfill to graduate. Every department will also have specific requirements for students enrolled in that major. Whatever the case, most classes are “required” by a major. This does not mean your classes will be easy. There will always be a couple of classes that are dreadful. However, if you choose your major wisely, most of your classes will be exciting and valuable.
When choosing classes, keep a list of required credits and classes. Pick gen-ed courses that interest you. For example, humanities requirements have many class options. A Shakespeare course, creative writing course, or electives on pop culture fulfil the same requirement. For non-humanities majors, look for fun options like an elective on pop culture. If the course topic is fun, you will be more engaged and keep up your GPA.
If your course requirements are strict choose your professor carefully. Having the right professor is the difference between a great semester and a terrible semester. Research professors to see who has gotten the best reviews, and understand their style of teaching. Make sure their teaching style compliments how you learn. For classes within your major or minor, take classes from a professor whose academic interests align with yours.
Have reasonable expectations of yourself and your professors. It is not smart to take one year’s worth of classes in one semester, or take a full semester of difficult classes. You can push yourself without overloading your schedule, destroying your social life, and lowering your GPA. Know your graduation requirements, and plan ahead of time to avoid overloading any semester.
Use time management skills when scheduling classes. Factor in the time it takes to get to your first class in the morning, and to walk from class to class. Being late or missing class regularly is unacceptable, and will ruin your GPA. Students who are chronically late or absent not only fail, but often have to retake the class.
On Campus vs. Online
If you have a busy schedule, consider taking online classes. Online degree programs are growing rapidly, both through distance-learning programs on traditional campuses and online universities. As a result, many students have the option of taking one or more class online. If this option appeals to you, check with your college to see what they offer.
Qualities to look for in a good online course, include course objectives, available resources, and academic support. Maintaining discipline and understanding material can be challenging, so having a support system to keep you on track is important to be successful. Commit to your course. Execute the same study strategies and time management skills in your online class as you would in a traditional classroom. If you stay on top of your online classes, you will be able to enjoy having a more flexible schedule.
Last Reviewed: February 2017
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