New Student Orientation is underway on campus, and it’s been great fun to have the Class of 2019 spending a couple of days on the bluff meeting with advisors, future classmates, as well as some current Lions — generally growing familiar with everything that makes LMU so special. I tell students that when they begin school in August, things will feel familiar and they will feel oriented — the ultimate goal of an Orientation program.
A key part of Orientation is that students register for their fall semester courses. College becomes much more real when you have a course schedule in hand… what you’ll be studying, where, when, etc. You also see just how different the college academic environment will be when you think about your four or five courses meeting for fewer hours but generating more work than the typical high school schedule.
This got me to thinking about course/curriculum requirements. All high school students know what they have to do to satisfy graduation requirements, and look forward to their junior and senior year coursework when they can take elective and advanced courses- things in which they are particularly interested. I fear that’s a hard mindset to shake when first talking with advisors about freshman year college courses, when most schedules are built around required intro or core curriculum courses. It’s easy to think of these as requirements to get out of the way as quickly as possible so you can get on to the really interesting material.
Your decisions about what to take junior and senior year are shaped by what you learn and what you like freshman and sophomore year — not by what you can do when the requirements are completed. Every course you take is an opportunity for growth and a step toward your goal, whatever that may be. Anticipate how each course will move you toward the outcomes you seek and the person you hope to become. Often they’ll do just that, sometimes they’ll send you off in a new direction, and more often than you might think, they’ll do both.
Students will sometimes tell me that they feel like they ran out of time before they could take all the courses they found intriguing junior and senior year. That should happen- there’s too much really interesting stuff to study in college. You can, though, minimize how much this becomes your experience by taking your first semester course selections just as seriously as you imagine you’ll take your senior year selections.