How Do I Choose My College Courses?

February 5, 2019

One approach to answer this question is to think about course selection belonging to two categories. Not all courses you select have to belong to one or the other category. However, this structure provides a starting point in answering the question.

Steps When Choosing Courses

The first category is "all-college requirements." A liberal arts college such as Luther values a wide distribution of study "˜'across the curriculum.'' To that end, the Luther faculty have established a set of requirements whose aim is to insure a broad and strong knowledge and skill foundation.

Secondly,  you must complete requirements in the category of "major." Here, the intent is for you to develop a deeper understanding of the curriculum within one or more disciplines. Requirements for a major are set by academic departments or programs with oversight of the entire faculty.

These sets of requirements are measured in credit hours for both categories. The number of credit hours needed to fulfill the all-college requirements will depend on your choice of courses. The required credit hours for the major will depend on the major.

College courses generally range from one to four credit hours. First-year students should register for 14-17 credit hours their first term, depending on their academic background and choice of courses. This credit hour range translates to a range of 4 to 5 courses depending on the credit each of the courses carry.

Choosing Your Major

As your academic experience begins, your advisor should help you establish your major area of study within the first three semesters. Consequently, one of the first courses you select should be in that realm. If you're reasonably certain of your major field, the course will likely confirm your interests. If you're less certain of your intended major, it is essential to explore a possible major by enrolling in the corresponding introductory course. The introductory course in a major is usually prescribed by the department or program and may depend on your academic preparation. In limited cases, the first course in the major will not be required until the second or third semester.

How your remaining first-semester credits are apportioned may depend on factors such as the need of a certain level of mathematics for a possible major or your plan for satisfying the language component of the all-college requirements.

Course selection for subsequent terms typically evolves into planning ahead for courses in the major, selecting interesting and inspiring courses to fulfill all-college requirements, and room to explore your passions, pursue a minor or a second major. Throughout the process, I encourage you to take advantage of the flexibility of scheduling and wealth of diverse course offerings.