How to Plan Your First Semester Courses with Minimal Panic

As many of you are finishing up College Studies right now, you may still be a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of planning your first semester schedule. Don’t worry! Pretty much every student I know felt the same way. College gives you a lot more options than high school, and it’s up to you to decide what options work best for you. Here’s a guide to help you through this process!

First: Proficiencies

It’s probably best to get proficiencies out of the way as soon as possible. If you are finishing up a foreign language, you don’t want to forget anything, and believe me you can forget math knowledge too. To see if you already have this proficiency completed, check your DegreeWorks page! If you still need a foreign language proficiency, check out this guidance on what qualifies. If you still need to complete your math proficiency, check Open Course List for classes with a MATH attribute. Pro tip: if you don’t consider yourself a math person, consider taking the class MATH 104, Math of Powered Flight. It sounds a little daunting, but I’ve heard that it’s not too difficult and can be very interesting!

Second: Prerequisites

If you aren’t sure of your major yet, don’t worry! Many students come into college unsure about what they want to pursue, and they all end up totally fine. If you have absolutely no idea, it’s probably best to take a wide range of subjects and try to figure out what you enjoy the most. However, be warned: there is not a single class at this university where I have not been captivated by the subject material.

If you already have an idea of what classes you want to take in future semesters, it’s good to check out those classes in our catalog to see if they require any prerequisites or recommended classes. Try to get these out of the way as soon as possible so you don’t have to worry about them later.

Fourth: COLL 100 and 150

To be completely honest, I didn’t end up with the COLL 100 or the COLL 150 I originally planned to take. However, the two classes I did end up taking ended up being some of my favorite college classes. When registering, just do your best to make sure you have plenty of backups available in case classes fill up faster than expected.

Another fun tip: If you know you are going to be mainly taking STEM classes, consider taking your COLL 100 and 150 in a class like art or English. This way you can explore subjects outside your major, while still having it count towards your overall degree! 😉 The same advice goes towards arts majors, take a science class!

Fifth: Other COLL requirements

For now, don’t worry about these too much. I took a COLL 200 my first semester, but it was only because I got my first two psychology classes covered by an AP score, and the next class I was interested in ended up being a COLL 200. You don’t have to officially take a COLL 200 until you are a sophomore, but if you happen to get a few out of the way, great!

Sixth: Professors?

Ah, Rate My Professors, the website we all use to secretly judge people from the safety of our dorm rooms. To be honest, don’t take a professor’s “ratings” too harshly. I’ve taken classes with professors that had TERRIBLE ratings (I’m talking like 1 out of 5) and I actually ended up really liking them both as people and as effective teachers! I would recommend checking out their pages before taking their classes though, as you can get tips on if they give pop quizzes or if you actually need to read the textbook.

Seventh: You aren’t a robot!

PLEASE remember that you are a human. I’m sure you had no problem sitting through high school classes for eight hours straight and waking up at 7 am every day, but this is probably not realistic for most college students. College classes are a lot more intensive, and just three hours straight of classes can really burn you out! Make sure to schedule breaks so you have time to eat and actually absorb the information you are cramming into your brains. Also, only sign up for an 8 am if you know you will actually go. You may think this is obvious, but you would be surprised…

As always, remember to make your health a priority. You may want your GPA to come above all else, but if you aren’t sleeping, socializing, working out, or eating properly, your brain will revolt and your GPA will suffer. My last pro tips: All nighters before an exam are almost never a good idea. Sleep deprivation can make your brain state similar to that of a drunk person, and if you think its a good idea to take an exam drunk I do not know what to tell you.

Lastly, don’t be one to fall into college “stress culture.” Boasting about how little sleep you got last night or how you’ve only eaten Ramen for the past week is not a good look. Stress should not be a competition.

If you read all of this, good job!! I hope this helped. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to your peer advisor or oaapeeradvisor@wm.edu if it’s the off season.

Remember to take care of yourself in all aspects of life!

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