College Freshman Academic Advice

Congratulations on your upcoming high school graduation and planning for your first year in college. This is an exciting time. Soon you will be on a college campus attending Freshman Orientation to learn how to get around campus or completing the session online and selecting your classes. Below are a few things to keep in mind before you make those choices.

Take the Pressure off Yourself – It is more important to have a good first and second semester in college than to rush and take too many classes due to the pressure to graduate in four years. Research from shows that more students graduate in five years than they do in four years. College is not like high school and classes require more work. Taking 12 credit hours, which is the minimum full schedule at many semester schools, is less pressure than taking 15 to 18 credits hours for your first and second terms in college. At the most taking 15 credit hours per semester should be considered.

Math – Before making a final college class schedule decision, check to see what math classes are required for your potential academic major. Experienced academic advisors know that math classes are a major reason many students change their major. If you are in a major that does not require a lot of math, consider not taking a math class for your first semester. The goal is to get off to a good start in college. If your major requires a lot of math courses properly balance out your schedule to allow enough time to do well.

Definition and Term Heavy Classes – Some classes tend to have a significant number of definitions and terms you will be required to memorize. In addition, the terms may be the same or similar. These classes also tend to have a lot of reading to complete. Examples are Introduction to Psychology and Introduction to Sociology. These two classes are not ideal to take during the same semester. It is better to take one of these types of classes and balance out your schedule with other kinds of courses.

Typical Freshman Courses – Many colleges require similar classes for college freshman. Taking this type of coursework gives you options and should be considered for your first two college semesters. Below are some examples, which usually count towards numerous academic majors. Be sure to check with your college for specific details.

Introduction to College/College Seminar – One Course

Computer Applications – One Course

English – Two Courses

Speech/Public Speaking – One or Two Courses

Social Sciences – Two Courses or More

Humanities and/or Literature – One or Two Courses

Math and Science – The courses are different depending upon your major.

By Kenneth McGhee, Director DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG)