Advice from Upper-Year Students
Political Science, Human Rights, Great Books
CONSIDER YOUR LIFESTYLE
When picking classes, consider your personal lifestyle preferences! For instance, don’t pick classes that start at 8:30am if you aren’t a morning person. Be honest with yourself. Think about when you like to eat, nap, exercise, and socialize. Often, the same class will be offered at a variety of times during the week, which can give you some flexibility when making your schedule.
KEEP IT BALANCED
Having a balanced class schedule will help you maintain a balanced lifestyle. Try to plan your schedule so that you have 1-3 classes every day. Your assignment deadlines will be spaced out evenly, and you’ll have more energy throughout the day. This will help you to feel more focused and be better prepared for class.
You can switch into (and out of) classes until mid-September. Even classes that are currently ‘full’ often have a few spots open up during the first week of classes. There are no “wrong” decisions when it comes to picking classes, especially in first year.
Political Science, English
EXPLORE YOUR INTERESTS
You don’t have to commit to a major—or area of focus—until the end of your second year, so that means you have lots of opportunities to really explore everything STU has to offer. Even if those courses don’t end up being what you decide to focus on, they will enrich you personally, and they will enrich all the other work you’re doing!
KEEP AN OPEN MIND
If you treat picking your courses as a chance to explore all your interests, I can guarantee you will be surprised by something new! I came to St. Thomas to study drama, but I took an intro course to Political Science to fill a requirement and I absolutely fell in love with it. Now, Political Science gives me a whole new perspective to bring to how I approach drama.
Criminology and Human Rights
HAVE ALTERNATIVE CLASS TIMES READY
It may be difficult to get into your preferred section of a certain class, but that’s okay! Most intro classes are offered at many different times during the week, so take a look at alternate time slots for your most important courses and be ready with back-ups in case. There’s nothing wrong with being a little extra prepared!
English and Great Books
DON'T TRY TO PLAN YOUR ENTIRE DEGREE
Going into my first year, I remember sitting with my dad, going through the courses available, and graduation requirements, and all those seemingly daunting things. I wanted to plan out my next four years, and I remember being super overwhelmed.
TAKE DIVERSE COURSES
Since then, I have taken a little Anthropology, Criminology, and Biology! None of which became my major, but I still took things from each of those classes.
BE PREPARED TO BE SURPRISED BY WHAT YOU LOVE
The beauty of the liberal arts education is you have the freedom, especially in your first year, to take a little of everything, and see what interests you. I came to STU with no intent to major in Great Books, but fell in love after my first Aquinas class, and now Great Books is my major!
Great Books, Human Rights, Political Science
YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND
Don’t worry too much about making your schedule ‘perfect’ when you register in the spring. It’s perfectly okay to show up to the first class in the fall, decide that course isn’t for you, and pick a different one! I didn’t realize you could do this until my third year, but it makes choosing classes much less stressful.
If you want more information on a course, you can email the professor over the summer. They will usually be able to provide you with a syllabus for the course, so you will know what to expect.
Economics, International Relations
YOU HAVE OPTIONS
I fell in love with Economics but it didn’t stop me from trying different things. I tried Political Science courses and realized I wanted to take International Relations. I registered in Italian to balance my schedule with courses needed for my major and courses that would give me new skills and it gave me the opportunity to learn a new language.
EMBRACE THE EXPERIENCE
Choosing courses now seems like a life-defining decision, but it’s more like a trial. You start somewhere and you may end somewhere else without expecting it. Always remember that university is an experience—take it slowly and enjoy every second of it.
YOU HAVE TIME
You have time to choose what courses you like and to schedule courses based on your personal needs. You have time to figure out what you want to major in and you certainly don’t need to know that now.
Criminology, Human Rights, Anthropology
DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF
Don't limit yourself to courses that you need to achieve your major—take courses on topics you enjoy and are curious about. The beautiful thing about STU being small is how accessible it is. There is something for everyone, you just have to be brave enough to go for it.