As a freshman in college, you have a lot to figure out: your major, your friends, your hangout spots, your identity. Some people even decide to start going by a different name their freshman year of college. It’s kind of weird, but hey, you do you.

You’re on an adventure at a new place, and your life feels like this blank slate. But before you get too caught up in the future choices, there’s a more pressing matter you should figure out:

Your class schedule.

I don’t know how it works for everyone, but….

When I was a freshman, my classes were automatically chosen for me. I showed up, they gave me a schedule, and this was my life for the next few months. Sure, I could have changed and swapped classes. But I didn’t really know or understand what I’d even change them to, and I assumed my college was looking out for me.

Maybe they were. Or maybe they just drew them out of a hat at random.

Either way, I was a freshman who had no idea what I wanted to major in but was confident I wasn’t going to be graduating from my current college, and yet, I was taking some pretty specific classes chosen by someone who wasn’t me.

Because of that, I ended up with…

  • Classes that didn’t transfer properly.
  • Requirements that had to be retaken
  • Poorly chosen electives
  • Wasted money

A few years down the road, I would realize I could have saved myself $5000+ by simply choosing better classes my freshmen year. I probably would have taken some cooler electives too. But I didn’t know any better. A lot of freshmen don’t.

So, I’m going to give you some advice that no one ever passed my way.

Here is what you should (probably) take as a freshman in college:

Whether you have a major picked out or not, you need to trust me here. People change in college. The things you thought you wanted turn out to be completely wrong for you. Not always. But they definitely can.

You may change majors. You may change colleges.

The good news is, you don’t have to have any commitments as a freshman. Even if you’re at a private religious school or some highly specialized college. If you’re working your way towards a bachelor’s or even an associate’s degree, there are certain classes everyone must take.

So start with those.

I can’t stress this enough. Get as many generals out of the way. Especially math. The longer you wait to take college math, the more you will forget all of the math you learned in high school. Unless you knocked out college math in high school, take it immediately.

But don’t stop there.

Take your science classes. Your history classes. Your English classes. Please, for the love of God, take you English and writing classes right away, because they will benefit you throughout ALL of your future classes.

Every college class requires you to be able to write well. Your English classes are probably the most universally beneficial classes you can take.

And once you have your generals in there…

Take a class or two that ties into a passion of yours. Scratch a personal itch. Pursue a curiosity. It wasn’t until the second semester of my sophomore year that I took a class I was genuinely excited about. It was Scriptwriting, and it changed everything for me.

I would suggest not waiting that long.

Test the waters and have some fun your freshman year. That seemingly random class might be all you need to figure out what you want to major in. Even if it’s not, every major has electives that you get to take. As long as you play it safe, you’re not wasting time or money.

Also, you don’t have to take a full course load as a freshman.

I took 17 credits during each of my first two semesters of college. I’d say for most first-year students, that’s excessive. Unless you know exactly what you want to do, take it easy.

At least the first semester.

Focus on the generals, and stick with a comfortable 12 or 14 credits. Trust me, you will save yourself (or your parents) THOUSANDS of dollars. Don’t let someone else choose your classes for you. Take responsibility.

This is just one of the many things no one told me about college life. To read about the rest of the story, make sure to check out That College Book: Everything Nobody Told Us About Life After High School.