ASCH: Utilize online resources when selecting classes

New students would benefit greatly from the many sites that could assist them in the course selection process

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Students should by no means refrain from asking about and discussing courses with their peers, but these conversations must serve as a complement to the online resources that are available.

Courtesy Startup Stock Photos

Arriving to college for the first time can be very difficult. There are so many things on the to-do list, ranging from what to bring with you to what extracurriculars you plan to join. Keeping it all straight can be daunting, and thankfully there are several online resources dedicated to helping students navigate these aspects of college. However, I believe new students need to be aware of sites that can help them get through what is in my opinion the most stressful part of attending college — choosing courses for the first time. I was completely lost when I was supposed to be choosing courses until someone explained many of these online services to me, so to ease the transition to college life new students must be made aware of these online resources before they arrive to Grounds.

The first and most valuable of the resources that new student should be utilizing is Lou’s List. Lou’s List not only serves as a comprehensive list of the courses offered that semester, but the courses are also separated out into categories making it easy to see if a course satisfies a particular requirement. Also, the platform allows users to compare course offerings to previous years, which can help with planning courses for future semesters. 

While it is important to know which courses are available, knowing what courses to take is essential. One way to go about this is to add courses that satisfy both major and degree requirements, while allowing room for exploration. To aid students, different majors and departments have websites where necessary courses to complete the major are listed. With this information in hand, new students can see what courses they need to start a potential major while also exploring other options or interests. 

Adding classes based on interests is important, but examining how students have fared previously in these courses is also important. Thankfully an a very easy to use online resource called VA Grades exists to evaluate the average GPAs previously offered courses at the University and other colleges in Virginia. While courses may sound interesting from their name alone, seeing the grades students have received in these courses gives first year students more information while they are assembling their schedules. 

While VA Grades is an incredibly useful website, I would caution new students against making course decisions based purely on that metric. The reason being that the kind of coursework offered could be tailored to some students’ skills and not others, which makes evaluating courses just by GPA average difficult. For example, some students may fare worse if a class is very reading and essay heavy if that is not their strength. This complication is not reflected in GPA averages, which is why I would recommend students check out websites such as theCourseForum and Rate my Professor to read student comments and get an idea about the nature of the course work. By knowing what kind of course they are getting into, in addition to the average GPAs, students have several metrics to evaluate potential courses. 

After going through all these resources and compiling a schedule, there are surely classes that do not make it into student’s schedules or are not offered. If a class doesn’t work out, it’s important to keep it in mind for future semesters. One incredibly useful function of these websites is that they offer information about previously offered courses that are not available now, but may be available in the future. This gives new students the ability to research and develop a list of potential courses for later semesters that can greatly simplify the scheduling process as students continue through their college career. 

All of these resources are necessary in order to create the best schedule possible. Students should by no means refrain from asking about and discussing courses with their peers, but these conversations must serve as a complement to the online resources that are available. With so many potential courses that students can enroll in, it is necessary to make an informed decision — these sites make that incredibly overwhelming selection process far easier.

Jacob Asch is an Opinion Editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at j.asch@cavalierdaily.com.

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