Selecting a course may seem straightforward: You look at your career plan and knock out requisites. But it really should be more than a checklist you’re working your way through! You wouldn’t just buy a car without doing a little research, would you? You wouldn’t marry someone without getting to know them or offer someone a ride that you just met.

Here are five things you should do before committing to a class:

A. Find out the coursework

Each class is very different. Some classes are based solely on three exams and others have weekly quizzes and homework assignments. While it’s easy to be tempted by the exams only classes, remember that while it is seemingly less work, it is also less forgiving. Homework and quizzes provide a buffer and force you to work during the week. If you know you procrastinate, opt for a class where homework assignments and weekly quizzes will keep you on your toes!

B. What’s the teacher like?

I know all professors hate rating sites–wouldn’t we hate it too if there was a site that rated students? That being said, some professors are just better than others. Note: Better isn’t always synonymous with EASIER. Some teachers, as intelligent as they may be, make horrible teachers! Ask around to find out what the teacher is like. Take student feedback with a grain of salt, but if an overwhelming number of people don’t like a professor, chances are he/she sucks.

Students in the classroom

C. Find a buddy

Academia is just easier when you have a friend. Try to schedule courses with a friend so that you have a support system in class! This relieves you from the pressure of making friends since you can rely on your buddy to share notes when you’re sick and to help you out if you’re lost.

D. Know the level

Some 101 courses are harder than graduate courses and some advanced courses could be taught in middle school. That’s why it’s important to not judge a course by it’s number, but by how HARD it really is. Ask older students what they thought and glance over texts/notes to get an idea of whether you’re ready to tackle a difficult course!

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