For me, one of the toughest and fascinating things about pursuing higher education in the United States has by far been the painstaking (but also rewarding) process of selecting your own classes. Much like the other American collegiate trends, the online registration process was a little daunting for an international student like me at first. But as I dug deeper into it, I started realizing how completely immersed I was becoming in the freedom and flexibility of my study schedule, from timings to areas of study.
The second revelation that I had, was that it is only just a matter of taking some time to understand how things work at a university in your country of stay (which is the United States for me) and then making sure that you best emulate those ways, a few of which follow.
- As a rule, you must remember to take at least 12 credit hours per semester to maintain your immigration status. (Unless of course, you are homesick to the point that you’d love to humor the Department of Homeland Security in deporting you.)
- As part of a college, you have three curriculum requirements you have to meet for the successful completion of your degree program. These are the major requirements, the university core curriculum requirements, and your school’s core curriculum requirements (just as I have to complete my College of Liberal Arts core curriculum requirements).
- Always have a solid plan of study. Out of your degree requirements, your major requirements are of paramount importance. That is why you should always work ahead and plan out your future subject selections well before you have to actually register for them. In this way, you can arrange and rearrange subjects as best suited to your comforts. It can also help you plan your semesters in such a way that all the intensive subjects are scattered across the four years of your college career, and allow you to pay ample amounts of attention to each one of them for better grades.
- The best part of a US-based education, according to me, is the Elective Courses. These are the courses you take as per your liking. These can also be helpful if your major is undeclared and you’re still trying to figure out what you should study. However, I would advise you to try to keep these as general and broad-based as you possibly can.
- Most competitive schools have Honors Programs. These courses are naturally more intensive and equally harder to get into. Nonetheless, look into them.
Why? Well, for one thing, the perks of being an honors student include a chance to study subjects designed specifically for your program. As an added benefit, you might also get a chance to register for classes before most other students, which can help you register easily for those classes that you really want.