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An image of a seashell drawn with charcoal on a canvas

Dartmouth terms typically consist of three courses. Because we are on a quarter system, that means most students take nine courses each year. Some particularly ambitious students may choose to take four courses in one term, but for first-year students, a four-course term is highly discouraged––a regular Dartmouth term is extremely fast-paced, and taking more than three classes at a time can be pretty stressful. 

Course selection for freshman students happens during the first few weeks of September. I remember feeling lost and confused about which classes I wanted to take. There are so many options––it feels like you could do anything. 

Some advice I can provide is to take your first term slow. Especially if you are an international student whose first language is not English. All classes are conducted in English and are fast-paced. I decided not to take extremely challenging classes my freshman fall, just until I was used to the academic rigour. 

The course selection process takes place through an online portal and students are allowed to select three courses. After a few days, you are notified if you have gotten the classes you wanted. For my first term, I was lucky enough to get two of the classes I elected. However, I know some friends of mine did not get a single class they chose. 

For this purpose, there is an add/drop period, which starts at 8:00 in the morning and lasts for around a week. All the students scramble to get the best wifi connection, as the portal often crashes. During this period students can drop elected courses and select new ones. You can also switch between different sections of the same class.

Some classes will be marked "IP" which means that you can only add the course with the instructor's permission. To do this, immediately email the professor who is teaching the course and ask to be added to the waitlist if there is one! Explaining why you need to take the course in your email would increase your chances of getting into some classes. 

However, if you do not end up getting all the courses you want, it is not the end of the world. I was not planning to, but I took a drawing class my first term and it ended up being my favourite class that term! 

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