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It’s that time of year again; you know, the one where we have to pick the perfect combination of classes for next semester.  You have requirements to fill, but that required class conflicts with that biology class you’ve been dying to take.  So what is the solution?  How do we successfully choose the classes we want, as well as fulfilling all the necessary requirements?  The answer is that there is no one way to make this happen.  However, as a senior, I have figured out a good way to balance schedules to include fun and interesting classes along with the necessary ones.  Here is a list of my advice for underclassmen:

1.     GET YOUR REQUIREMENTS OUT OF THE WAY! I’m serious, you won’t regret it.  There is nothing more annoying than having to take a class junior or senior year when you easily could have taken it your freshman or sophomore year.  Once you have fulfilled the requirements you’re free to take whatever you want for the remainder of your time in college.

2.     EXPLORE! College is about figuring yourself out.  If your major is economics, maybe you want a little change to exercise your brain.  I found that taking religious studies courses as well as philosophy courses is a great way to challenge my brain to think in more abstract ways.

3.     PLAN AHEAD! It’s totally normal to not know what you want to do after college; in fact, most students have no idea what they want to do.  However, if you have a slight idea it is a good to figure out what classes are required or recommended for graduate programs so you can apply right after undergrad.  By taking most or all of these types of courses as an undergraduate, you will avoid the burden of taking more classes after graduating (It saves money too!).

4.     BALANCE! It is true that students go to college to learn, but college is also for enjoyment.  DO NOT overload your schedule with three 300 level biochemistry classes and a history course; that is simply setting yourself up for failure – academically, socially, and mentally.  The key to balancing a schedule is to combine courses that are both challenging but enjoyable at the same time.  If you enjoy a course, the more motivated you will be, and the more success you will have.

5.     DON’T STRESS! It is true that we don’t always get the classes we want.  This seems like the end of the world, but at the same time, there are ways around this problem.  One option (better for freshmen and sophomores) is to wait until the next semester.  You have time.  A second option is talking to the professor and expressing your interest in the class.  Most of the time this is a method that professors appreciate.  If the class isn’t completely full, he or she will probably let you into the class. 

Talia Levine is a sophomore at Hamilton College. She is from Long Island, New York but recently moved to Brooklyn. Talia is a hispanic studies major and anticipates going abroad to Madrid next spring.
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