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How Will I Know What Courses to Take at Community College?

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Once you've been admitted to the college, there will still be more to do! Being admitted does not mean that you are registered. When you select, schedule, and enroll (secure a place) in your classes, you'll be officially registered. The college will able to record and track your academic progress. You need to register and enroll in classes each term. You'll also need some advice about what to take based on your interests, personal schedule, and educational goals. You'll have experts and resources available to you to help you make these decisions.

FAST FACT: Many community colleges offer an Associate's degree in General Studies (AGS) for students who want maximum flexibility in meeting requirements for transfer to a four-year institution, exploring a career, or meeting other personal goals.

You may be fortunate enough to know exactly what major (your primary field of study) or career you want to pursue. If you don't know, don't panic. Many students enter community college without a clear idea of what they want to study, or what types of jobs they can get when they study a particular subject.

You can, however, begin to explore choices. The earlier you begin, the better chance you have to create a long-term road map for achieving your associate's degree or certificate, or for transferring to a four-year institution. There are plenty of resources and people on campus to help you make a decision.  Keep reading for more information.

What You'll Need to Take

You'll need to fulfill requirements for your certificate or degree by balancing courses and meeting requirements in several different areas:

  1. General education requirements
  2. Courses in your major (your primary field of study)
  3. Electives (courses that interest you but that may not be related to your major)

If you intend to transfer to a four-year college or university, you'll also want to be sure that you're taking courses for which you'll get credit when you are admitted to that institution. (See Chapter 10 for more information on transferring.)

You'll want to create a checklist of all the requirements you need to meet and keep track of your progress each semester.

General Education Requirements

Many community colleges have general education requirements, also called general core curriculum (course of study) requirements. These are courses that all students need to fulfill to have a well-rounded education.

The core curriculum is centered on subjects such as English composition, mathematics, arts, humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences. Students in vocational and technical programs are also required to take the "core courses." Many of these courses are ones you'll take in your first several semesters at college.

You may think that the core's a bore, or that it will take you off track from your career interests. Try to look at these courses as an opportunity to explore a subject you might enjoy or as a way to help you select a major. They might be your best chance to explore a field that you didn't even know interested you, or to dig into something you always wanted to know about, but simply
didn't have time to learn about.

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