If you’re trying to decide between multiple college offers, taking a closer look at coursework can help you make a well informed decision. Although there’s more to the college experience than just your classes, it does play an important role in the experience you have. It’s easy to pick a college based on the majors it offers, but your major coursework will just be one part of the classes you end up taking.
Here are 3 types of coursework to look for at the colleges you are considering:
Minoring in a subject is a great way to follow one of your passions or complete the subject you’re majoring in. For example, if you major in mass communication, you could use a minor in marketing to help you understand the business side of the communications industry. Some colleges refer to them as concentrations or certificates. Basically it’s any set of classes that require less credits than a minor while still requiring enough courses for you to learn the subject. If you’re majoring in biology because you plan to because a doctor, you can still follow your passion for art history by majoring in it. Minors are also a great way to keep going with a foreign language you’ve spent time learning to meet your high school and/or college requirements.
These courses are offered only to freshman, and sometimes sophomores too, as an introduction to college in a smaller setting. Some universities will have introductory courses with a couple hundred students, but these special seminars of about 15-20 student will allow you to develop a closer connection to your professor. This will be helpful later on when you need a letter of recommendation or are interested in doing research. Since the classes are smaller, you may feel more comfortable with speaking up in class and it’ll be easier to become friends with your classmates. Seminar classes also allow you to take a class on a subject not offered regularly. My college offers seminars classes on everything from the science behind coffee to the cultural history of African Americans in sports. Some seminars are offered as a pass or fail grade instead of a letter grade, so you can focus on exploring your academic interests instead of worrying about your GPA.
Core or General Education Courses
Many colleges require students to take some type of general education or core classes. This includes subject areas such math, science, English, history, social sciences, and art. If the college has a religious affiliation, it may also require coursework relevant to the religion. All core requirements are not structured the same, and some will offer more flexibility than others. One college’s history requirement may offer 5 courses focused on different areas of the world, while another college’s requirement will offer you 20 courses focused on broader types of history such as the history of computers. A foreign language requirement may also be part of the core curriculum. At the previous college I attended, all students had to complete 3 semesters of a foreign language. The college I currently attend requires 4 semester of a foreign language, but it only applies to students with a liberal arts major. If you hope to double major, it is especially important to keep in mind how many core courses are required. Remember to search for core courses that can also count towards your major courses.
If you’re having trouble finding coursework information on a college’s website, just search the name of the college plus course catalog on Google. Pay attention to the date the catalog was updated because the available courses could have changed since it was published. If you find a course you’re interested in, check how often it is offered and if it is only held during certain terms. Coursework offerings is just one factor in selecting a college, but spend some time researching it to so you can make the best decision for you.