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Taking three classes at a time may seem like a light course load in comparison to the four or five classes taken at other institutions, but Dartmouth's 10-week quarter system provides a fast paced class experience with a lot of work in a short period of time. I could go on and on about how much flexibility, exploration, and educational experience this provides, but this post will strictly be a 101 on how to create the most ideal term schedule possible. For the spring term, I'll be taking my first year seminar, a second level chemistry class, and an engineering class!

  1. Assess the kinds of work you'll be doing in each class.

I tend to classify classes into three types of work: essays, projects, and problem sets. Each of these begs a different set of skills that may or may not come easiest to you. Knowing if you're a big essay vs. project vs. problem set person is a huge advantage given you may want to diversify your schedule or optimize it as much as possible. For example, I know I do best with projects and second best with problem sets. Writing is definitely not my strong suit, so for the upcoming spring term, I knew I wanted two project or problem set heavy classes in addition to my mandatory writing seminar. 

  1. Know when you're most productive.

One of my favorite things about college vs. high school is choosing when I get to take my classes. Gone are the days of sitting in a classroom from 7am to 3pm, going through cycles of being able to focus and not. When you're able to choose when you take your classes, you can plan their times to work with how you learn! After my fall and winter terms, I found that I'm truly unable to sit in a lecture for more than 55 minutes without getting drowsy. I also discovered that I work best in the morning and don't concentrate well during classes later than 2pm. For my spring term, I have no lectures that are during a long period, and have scheduled most of my classes in the morning! 

  1. Are you exploring?

One important question that should be asked whenever choosing new classes is on the topic of exploration. Simply asking yourself, "are you exploring" allows for a term that uncovers new interests that you might not even know you had! Even if this is not the case, you'll be able to learn more about yourself as a student and what you may or may not consider pursuing in the future. The best thing about going to a liberal arts college is the encouragement to take things that you wouldn't take under any other circumstances. It's through having this mindset that I took "Biological Anthropology" as well as "Introductory Sociology," two classes that ignited passions that I never would've even considered.

  1. Are you interested?

If the classes you're taking aren't interesting to you, the term you're setting yourself up for will simply not be fun. Though major requirements need to be met and sometimes that means taking the unpleasant prerequisite here and there, these classes can always be balanced with something more tailored to what you want to learn about! Dartmouth wants its students to pursue what they find intellectually stimulating and what feeds their interests. As an engineering major, I have to take a ton of prerequisite classes that don't look like they'll be super interesting, but I've found that even with a term heavy with these classes, I'm able to take a class that reminds me of how much I love learning. 

I've carefully cultivated all of my classes this term using the above methods to hopefully provide a great balance for my spring term. I'm taking classes I'm interested in, fulfilling my major requirements, and exploring new things! I hope this guide provides some insight on just what Dartmouth students consider when choosing their classes.

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