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What college classes should I take first?

Before you begin your first quarter or semester at college, at some point you’ll need to decide what classes you want to take. Unlike high school, you’re now paying a lot for college, so if you aren’t taking the right classes, you’ll be throwing your money, that you may have earned with hard work at your part-time job, right down the drain.

After your first semester/quarter, you’ll understand well how to choose classes, but at first, you might be a bit confused.

Depending on if your school uses the quarter or semester system, you’ll probably be taking somewhere between three and five classes. The key to making sure that you’re taking the best classes you can is to prioritize. In order to decide which classes you should take, ask yourself these questions — in this order — to create a prioritized list of classes to enroll in:

1. What class(es) should I take for my major?

First things first. Even though many college students switch their major several times before deciding, you should start by exploring your current top choice. Take the appropriate intro class or classes, just to start you on the right track.

2. What about general education classes?

Take a good look at your school’s general education requirements. Do any have deadlines? Are there any classes you should take right away? Although you have four years to finish your general education classes, it’s best to get the annoying ones out of the way while you can.

3. Are there any other majors I’m considering?

If you’re trying to decide between a couple of majors, you might want to take an intro class to that field as well. The sooner you can decide what you’d like to major in, the better.

4. Are there any fun classes I can take?

I definitely don’t recommend taking an elective class unless it falls into your major or fulfills a general education requirement. Save those for when your workload is harder, when you take upper-division classes.

However, if you can find a class that’s interesting and fulfills some sort of a requirement, go for it. Alternatively, if the class would be in addition to a full workload, go for it, but be prepared to drop it first if necessary.

Look through the whole course catalog.

You’d be surprised what interesting classes your school might offer. Instead of taking a literature class, perhaps you can take a themed writing class that you’d enjoy more. Perhaps your school offers classes on other topics that you’d find interesting. If you don’t look through the catalog, though, you’ll never know.

Have backup classes.

Most colleges give enrollment priority to upper-classmen, meaning incoming freshmen choose their classes last. Popular classes fill up fast, and if you’re not prepared, you can quickly find that three of your four classes are already full.

When possible, find alternatives in case your preferred classes are full. Be prepared to choose an inconvenient section time.