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5 Tips to Help International Students Select U.S. College Classes

Pay close attention to your major requirements and make sure you note when prerequisite courses are offered.

UE - Pay close attention to your major requirements and make sure you note when prerequisite courses are offered.

As an international student, choosing college classes online might be something new to you. When I was in high school in China, students had no say in choosing courses and the curriculum was fixed for everyone.

However, when you start at a college in the U.S., you have to select your own courses from all of available classes you school offers. Honestly, it was a pain for me when I tried to plan out my first quarter's schedule, especially because I was doing it from far away. Here are some tips on how incoming freshmen can choose classes wisely and properly.

1. Make sure you take enough classes:

First things first. As an international student, you must register for at least 12 credit hours per semester in order to maintain your immigration status.

2. Start with courses in your major:

Major courses are classes that your major department requires you to finish in order to receive a degree in that program. They usually make up a significant part of your college curriculum and the requirement for those courses can vary significantly between different departments. Therefore, it is very important to consult with your major adviser and plan out your course schedule with him or her if possible.

3. Consider elective courses:

Elective courses are courses that you can choose based on your intrests. Usually, elective courses can fulfill a college's general education requirements and they can typically be any courses outside your major field.

Since electives are courses outside your major, why don't you choose something you are interested in? That way, you will have more motivation to study it and your grade will probably be better.

In freshman year, it is a good idea to boost your GPA since entry-level courses are relatively easy. Therefore, I recommend international students avoid pure literature and art classes. Those classes can be challenging for international students.

4. Understand the requirements for science majors:

Science-intense majors usually have a lot of physics, chemistry and biology classes to take and those courses will have a lab portion. Please do not get confused by the number of units each lab portion has.

5. Investigate honors programs:

Many schools have honor programs. It is definitely a privilege to be in a honors program, since students typically get to take courses specifically designed for the program. Meanwhile, students in some honors programs have registration time before everyone else. This means you won't have trouble getting to take courses that you want.

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