We all get caught up in registering for classes whether we know our career track or not. If you know your major, you’re consumed with getting the classes you want and if you’re not sure of your major, you’re confused on what to take!
Amidst all that confusion/stress, it’s easy to forget whether it’s the best time to take a particular class, if the class is right for our career path and if the professor will work for our learning style.
Here are five questions you should answer by doing a little research, looking up professor ratings, and asking your peers and friends.
1. Is there an easier semester?
For many courses, there are “easier” semesters. For some, it could be a spring semester because your university allows high school students whose grades are accounted in the curve.
For others it could be a fall semester where there is one less exam. Ask around to find out if taking the class is easier in the spring, fall or summer.
2. What is the workload like?
This is crucial to find out! I’ve had “easy” 101 level classes that were horrendous because the workload was insane and then I’ve had advanced courses with challenging material that were easy because they required less “busy time.”
Try to find out whether there are surprise quizzes, homework, papers or assignments. If you know the teacher, shoot him/her an email and ask about the class!
You should also look into the types of books (and how many of them) needed for the class. You don’t want to enroll in a class that requires a $300 book if you don’t have $300. If you’re looking to save on textbooks, Check out CourseSmart.com and save big!
3. Who is the best teacher for this class?
Teachers matter. This doesn’t necessarily mean to find out which teacher gives the easiest A, but take the time to find out if one teacher TEACHES better.
I had a Chemistry class where I almost fell in love with my chemistry teacher because she made everything seem so effortless. When I took my second chemistry class, I had a teacher who was really intelligent, but failed as a professor.
Ask students and check websites that rate professors, but remember: Don’t take the ratings to heart since many students could be bitter and resentful.
4. How is the class conducted?
If you know the professors, shoot an email to find out how the class is conducted.
Is attendance mandatory? Will there be any supplemental work that involves going off-campus such as elaborate research projects? Will there be surprise quizzes? These questions are important to answer because taking a class is time consuming.
It’s vital to know if you need to attend class or will be expected to dedicate more than the traditional lecture and studying time.
It’s also crucial to know about surprise quizzes because they require consistent dedication—you need to study regularly to do well! If you’re the type of person who only studies for the exam, then a class which has a surprise quiz every week may not be your best choice for you.
5. How does this help me?
For a course that is not mandatory for your major, ask yourself one question: Why am I taking this?
Are you taking a super-hard class because “everyone else is,” despite not having any interest? Chances are, you won’t do as well or will be resentful taking a class that has little-to-no value to you!
Unless you can justify the course—it’s interesting, mandatory for your major, a learning experience that you will regret not taking up on, will help you in your future—don’t take the class!