Major Pains: Choosing College Classes

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College Minors

Pick a college minor in something completely different to your major, but somewhat related. Doing so will make you more marketable. For example, suppose your major is accounting, minor in sociology. A business major? Minor in nutrition. If your major is journalism, minor in marketing. The goal is to maximize your job market oppurtunities.

During my junior year in college, journalists were downsized right and left. It didn’t faze me. I had other skills that were highly marketable, like marketing. I was not only a writer, but I had business skills. I could be an editor, a public relations professional, a market research analyst, or create market-planning documents. From my journalism training, I was also a research specialist. I could find jobs in up to six different professions. And if I really put more thought into it, I could wiggle my credentials into the culinary arts.


Marketable Job Skills

Not only will you need at least a bachelor’s degree to get ahead in this world, but also you’ll need marketable job skills, technical know-how. What good is a career in veterinary technology if you don’t know how to use a computer? Better yet, specific software programs that are standard in the business.

A good way to figure out what you need is to browse the online job circuit in your field. In my field, I had seen several programs repeated like FileMaker Pro, Bacons, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Adobe InDesign, and a slew of others. If my school didn’t offer the workshop, I downloaded a trial version and taught myself with a how-to book from the public or school library. The more skills you have, the more palatable your resume looks to an employer.

Shuffling Around Your Options

Registration happens in hierarchies: The seniors register first, then the juniors, then sophomores, and so on. As a new college student, your registration date will be appointed after everyone else has picked over the classes. This is your gift from college–but you can thank them later.

If you can, take classes you enjoy first. These classes can leave you with the right impression about whether or not you’re cut out for this college business in the first place. In the second place, you won’t waste too much hard cash and you can stow away your college aspirations if you’re not ready. Also, taking these courses first will get you back into the swing of things. Suppose math or physics is your mania, then dive right in, although I wouldn’t recommend this buoyant feat. You could be out of there faster than they can process your tuition payment.


Taking several random college classes could well veer your graduation plans into a ditch. You only have approximately 120 credits to play with for a four-year degree and much less than that for elective courses. So use them prudently. The last thing you’d want to have is 20 left-over-do-nothing credits. They certainly won’t transfer into graduate school.

Balance the course load with theory and practical classes. Your brain can only handle so much information at once. Imagine this, you’re taking algebra, geometry and chemistry at the same time… That’s not what you want to do! I usually rate classes with one to four stars: One is the easiest; two is relatively easy, but I’d have to write at least one BIG term paper during the course; three stars means the course is hefty, somewhere in the middle; and a four-star course means I have to reserve that one class its own semester. To illustrate, I had planned to take geology and advertising & direct marketing together because I knew geology would require lots of reading and mind twisting I-don’t-knows. Marketing wouldn’t do that to me. If you’re taking English classes and writing is not your forte, take something like “drawing” with it and two- or three-star courses to level your sanity.

Try not to pick courses that are too early or too late and you know you can’t show up. You’re making a commitment here, so be responsible and do the right thing. Give a grace period for the baby sitter to have car trouble, even though you know that he or she is hung-over because they stayed out all night. And just say no if you’re not an eight-o’clock-in-the-morning person. Look for another class, although sometimes you might have to bend this rule. There may be one class in one section that you must take in order to graduate. I shall call this, “having an out-of-body experience.” Your body is festering in the classroom while your mind is sprawled out in your king-size bed.

Scheduling classes right after the other can put you into the I’m-going-to-school mode. This is a good thing. You’ll need at least two to three months until it sinks in that you’re actually the one in Romper-Room Middle School. Try to schedule as many of them on the same day as possible, so you can take mini-vacations during the week. Well, from school anyway, but that’ll also mean you have to catch up on household chores. Then, next semester try to have at least a one-hour gap in between classes so you can check out the school cafeteria and see what your peers are up to. Student watching is far more advantageous than, say, watching Law & Order. You can also use this time to study or perform research in the library, like catching up on that research paper that you hadn’t started writing yet.

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