Can students take any class they want?

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Can students take any class they want?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Can students take any class they want?

Only a few colleges are that liberal. If you want to graduate in 4 yrs, you better have enough credits in your major, or college will be an endless academic pursuit.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Can students take any class they want?

While one of the advantages of college is the vast array of choices you are faced with, proceed with caution. If you have a goal of finishing in a certain number of years, you will need to be very thoughtful in your course selection. Some classes follow a very prescribed sequence. Other courses may not be offered every semester or year. Certain programs limit spaces in their classes to those declared majors. It's not a bad idea to poke around the course handbook and consider stretching your boundaries. By taking a class beyond your comfort zone or outside your usual interests, you may just fall in to the field of you dreams.

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

Can students take any class they want?

Various schools have different ways of making classes available to students. When you are doing your research, that is one of the things you will want to investigate about the schools at which you are looking. Some schools may have absolutely open scheduling options, but those schools would be in the minority. Most have some sort of framework of scheduling which will lead their students to a well-rounded education. There is a wide spectrum of class scheduling possibilities. Some institutions have a special program of studies that students are required to complete. This program may be centered around Great Books, World Philosophies, etc. These programs are sometimes, but not always, focused on first-year students. Many schools require first-year students to complete or exempt basic classes in Mathematics, English, or Writing. Other schools have something which they call "distribution requirements" (the name will vary from one institution to another). In this case, students are required to take courses in a set variety of disciplines, with a wide range of actual class choices being offered within each discipline. For example, one highly-regarded university has the following basic requirements of students working toward Bachelor's degrees: Writing Seminar--one course Foreign Language--one to four terms to complete, depending on the language students study and the level at which they start Epistemology and Cognition (EC)--one course Ethical Thought and Moral Values (EM)--one course Historical Analysis (HA)--one course Literature and the Arts (LA)--two courses Quantitative Reasoning (QR)--one course Science and Technology (STL/STN)--two courses. At least one course must be a science and technology course with laboratory (STL). Students may elect a second laboratory science course, or a non-laboratory science course (STN). Social Analysis (SA)--two courses Within those broad areas, a wide range of class options are offered, assuming that students have met any prerequisite requirements. In addition to the courses within the distribution requirements, the student will ultimately focus more specifically on classes which fall within his/her chosen major. Some of the distribution requirement courses will quite possibly apply to a student's major or minor, as well. By being required to investigate a variety of disciplines, students often discover a dormant interest - something that they had not previously considered, which will lead them to pursue another direction of study. Keep in mind that requirements will differ from one school to another. The above distribution requirement description is merely an example and relates to a specific institution. Therefore, an important part of your university research will be in determining course requirements, how classes are scheduled, and how course material is delivered - large lectures, small classes, large lectures followed by small-group seminars, etc. Consider how you would learn best.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

Can students take any class they want?

Colleges vary in the amount of core or required courses. At some colleges, the curriculum is very standardized, but most often there will be distribution requirements that allow students to choose between many courses that can fulfill a particular requirement. Some majors also have more required courses than others and therefore offer less opportunity for electives.

Katie Parks
Former Admissions Counselor

Can students take any class they want?

This is one of those ideas that is touted as one of the best reasons to go to college – you get to pick your classes. And while that’s true, it is important to remember that this doesn’t mean you can just pick any class out of the catalog that you want. There are two basic questions to ask yourself when creating a class schedule your first semester: 1.) Do I Qualify For This Course? – Many courses have what are called “pre-requisite” requirements that must be completed before enrolling in a course. These requirements are courses or skill levels that must be achieved before a student can enroll in a course. For example, many upper level English classes have a pre-requisite of Engl-101 (or Freshman Composition) which means that students must pass their Freshman Composition class before they can complete upper-level courses. Pre-requisites can also include scores on placement tests. Many schools make students complete placement tests upon admittance, which will make sure the student is placed in to the right level of coursework. These tests can also serve as placement for freshman-level courses, therefore acting as a pre-requisite. 2.) Does this Class Meet My Needs? – Being able to take a bunch of different classes in a bunch of different subject areas is a great perk of college. For those who are undecided about their major, this exploration can be a great way to figure out which path to go down. However, exploration can only go so far. If you take a bunch of courses that do not fit in to your major coursework or general education requirements, you may have to take heavier loads later in your collegiate career. So while exploring different subject matter is great, I would recommend exploring subjects by taking courses that would fit in to your school’s general education requirements. Also, if you come in with a clear academic path, it may be important to look at the course catalog to explore the sequencing of classes to make sure you take all the pre-requisite courses you need in order to reach your upper level courses at the pace you want. For instance, many engineering programs require you take an Intro to Engineering class before starting in your major coursework, and that often requires a certain level in math. The sooner you can take that Intro class the better – meaning you may want to start thinking about what Math you want to take early on in your schedule planning. If a class meets your needs and you are eligible to take it, then by all means the choice is yours! And there are a lot of choices. There are tons of entry-level general education courses that cover a wide range of topics, from history to philosophy to everything in between. There are of course other factors to consider when picking your courses, including time – can you take the course at the scheduled time, availability – is the course being offered in the semester you want it, and whether you feel you will be successful in the course -if you hate writing and know you can’t wake up at 7:30 to get to campus, then an 8am creative writing course may not be for you. (I also recommend meeting with your freshman academic advisor for help ensuring the classes you want fit in to your long term goals.) But, know that if you choose classes that cover these two basic questions you still have tons of flexibility and the decisions are all yours – you can pick any of the courses you want!

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

Can students take any class they want?

No. Classes are often limited by size, whether it's how many seats are in a lecture room or how big a class can be before intimate discussion becomes impossible, but classes may fill up before some students can register for them. This is especially true for freshmen, as they often choose their classes last, after upperclassmen. That sounds bad, but it means that as you get older you will get first pick of classes too. Classes often have prerequisites as well, and if you don't have the prerequisite courses of credits to take a class, you cannot enroll in it. This is for the benefit of all, so that students won't find themselves totally out of their depth and failing with material that is much too difficult, and teacher will not feel their class is being slowed down because they have to go back and cover basics instead of moving ahead with new material.