Choosing Courses: Guidelines and Advice

The basics

  • Students at Kalamazoo College take THREE courses each term. In fall term, you’ll take a First-Year Seminar and two other 1.0 or 1.2 credit courses. You can also take .2 credit courses, such as physical education activities or music ensembles in addition to your other three courses (but you cannot go above 3.9 total credits/units).
  • Go to Student Planning in Hornet HQ to view the fall course schedule for First-Year Seminars and First-Year Friendly courses.
    • NOTE: You will need your Kalamazoo College username (K20xx## format) and password to access Student Planning. Find them on your Applicant Status Page.
  • Do not be alarmed if most classes already appear to be “Closed” before registration has even started. We have saved seats for incoming students in First-Year Friendly courses. These saved seats will not be released until right before registration appointments begin on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Deciding which courses to choose

Choosing a First-Year Seminar

  • Read ALL of the Seminar descriptions. Titles are short and don’t fully tell you what the class is about.
  • Even though the topics and course numbers vary widely, all Seminars focus on developing critical thinking and writing skills.
  • No prior knowledge of the topic is required!
  • Identify at least eight that interest you.
    • Note: First-Year Seminars meet in fall term only.

The #1 rule: find courses that interest you!

  • Start exploring. Try something completely new – you might find out you like something you never thought you would. Take an introductory course in a potential major department. Since Kalamazoo is known for study abroad/away, think about courses with an international or intercultural focus.
  • Look over ALL the First-Year Friendly courses on the online schedule. You never know what might grab your attention. Titles are short and don’t fully tell you what the class is about.
  • Plan a potential list of at least ten courses that sound interesting (in addition to your Seminar choices).

Language selection and placements

Proficiency in a second language through the Intermediate Level (i.e., the 103 course for Chinese and Japanese; the 201 course for French, German, Latin, and Spanish) is a graduation requirement at Kalamazoo College. Starting this requirement early has many benefits!

Remember: you are required to take the placement exam for any language studied in high school or for which you have even minimal proficiency – even if, at this point, you do not intend on or are not sure about continuing in that language at K.

  • Which language should I choose?
  • If you choose to CONTINUE a language you have previously studied, you MUST start with the course indicated by your placement exam score. If you completed the exam by June 15, scores will be posted in early July before registration. See Viewing Placement Exam Results for how to interpret your score. Note that the course you placed into might not be offered in fall term.
  • If you wish to study a NEW language, you must start with the beginning level 101 course. You do not need to take the placement exam if you are starting a new language. To allow yourself plenty of options for study abroad, don’t be afraid to start a completely new language!

101 course offering schedule

  • Chinese, German, Latin, and Japanese: 101 courses are ONLY offered in fall.
    • Therefore, if you plan to study one of the above languages at the 101 level, you should do that this fall or in the fall of your sophomore year.
  • French: the 101 course is offered in fall and spring
  • Spanish: the 101 course is offered in fall, winter, and spring

Science, Math, and Pre-Med students

  • If you are interested in Pre-Med/a Health Science career, potentially majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, or Physics, or having an Environmental Studies concentration: make sure to read the science-specific guidelines and advice.
  • See Viewing Placement Exam Results for how to interpret your chemistry and/or math placement exam scores (scores will be posted in early July if you completed the exams before the June 15 deadline). Note that the course(s) you placed into might not be offered in fall term.

Business and Economics students

  • If you are interested in a potential business or economics major or in taking advanced courses in these departments, Calculus (MATH-112) is required for the major and is a pre-requisite for some courses. Make sure to take the Math placement exam because you won’t be able to sign-up for Calculus without a placement exam score!

AP/IB/Dual Enrollment credit

  • If you took AP or IB exams, you will be granted one unit of credit for each subject area in which you earned a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Exam or a score of 5 or higher on the Higher Level IB Exam. Official scores must be sent directly to the College.
  • Dual Enrollment credit is awarded based on the College’s transfer policies. Official college/university transcripts are required for evaluation. Transcripts for incoming first-year students will not be evaluated until after registration. If you took a class for dual enrollment credit in high school that you wish to use as a pre-requisite for a fall class, please contact the Registrar’s Office. Evaluation of transfer credits can take up to several weeks so pre-requisite approval is not guaranteed in time for registration.

General things to keep in mind

  • We understand you might feel a bit uncertain choosing courses before we have all the plans finalized for fall. Please know after final decisions are announced in August about specific course formats for fall, you’ll have an opportunity to adjust your schedule, if needed. Additionally, during orientation you’ll meet with your academic advisor to further finalize your schedule. However, note that First-Year Seminar placements will be final after the registration period in July.
  • You are registering only for fall term at this time. Introductory courses in many departments will also be offered in winter and spring terms.
  • Being at a liberal arts institution, you will be encouraged to explore new areas, perspectives, and varied disciplines throughout your first year.
  • Remember that there is no perfect set of courses that fits everyone. There’s a wide variety of what students choose: one student might take a Seminar, history, and German; another, a Seminar, chemistry, and biology.
  • Every course offered counts toward graduation. Think broadly when identifying your list of potential courses for fall and don’t be afraid to try something new!
  • Make sure you choose courses that YOU want to take. Listen to the advice of others, but make the final decisions yourself.
  • Our new students have been registering online over the summer for quite some time. You really don’t have to have a one-on-one discussion with an academic advisor right now in order to make good decisions about courses for the fall. The registration websites are full of excellent information, and we are here to answer your questions and to help you. Don’t worry! You will be able to make good choices.