Choosing Your First Semester Classes
Whether you plan to transfer to a university, receive an Associate Degree or a vocational focused certificate from Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), or all three, selecting the appropriate first semester courses is very important!When deciding which courses to select for your first semester, there are six areas you need to consider:
- The number of units you can realistically complete
- Your English writing and reading requirements
- Your Math requirement
- General Education (GE) requirements
- Major requirements
It is important to strike a balance between all of these areas when planning your classes. For example, an ideal semester plan would include an English course, a Math course, a class that is required for your major in which it may also satisfy a general education requirement, and an elective, such as physical education, arts, or music.
In a previous topic, we discussed how many hours you should expect to spend in the classroom and study time based on how many units you are enrolled in. It is impossible to foresee what challenges life will present to you over the next few years. As you plan your first semester, keep in mind your other life commitments, set realistic goals for yourself, and be patient.
It is essential to take your required English courses early because they will improve your reading and writing skills, which are the building blocks for the rest of your academic courses. If you scored into English 60,65, 70,80 or ESL (English as Second Language), we recommend that you enroll in those courses and refrain from enrolling in any courses with a skills advisory for a higher English score. A skills advisory indicates the level of skill in reading and writing that a student should have already mastered in order to be successful in that course.
Math is required for all degrees at Santa Barbara City College. It is also an admissions requirement for all public as well as many private colleges and universities. It is important to get started on Math in your first semester, especially if you wish to transfer. When students avoid taking Math and complete other requirements first, they may delay their target graduation and transfer date.
You always want to make certain that you enroll into courses that are aligned with your English and Math assessment levels. Students who need to develop basic skills take only English and Math in their first semester. College level courses will be easier once you have developed these skills.
General education courses give you a broad background and understanding in a variety of subjects at the college level. In addition to Math and English courses, general education includes classes in Science, Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences and Communication. In order to earn a degree, all colleges require a specific pattern of general education courses for graduation.
A major is a specific subject area that you will study in depth by enrolling into courses related to it. Most majors are made up of the following:
- Major preparatory (prep) classes
- General Education (GE) courses that are satisfied with major preparatory (prep) classes
Major preparatory (prep) courses will prepare you for your upper division courses at the four year university. Your transferable Math courses are chosen based on your major and transfer institution.
Electives are courses which may not be required for your major or general education. These courses can include physical education, arts, career planning, and computer classes among several others. Many new- to-college students enroll into a College Success (Personal Development 100) or Career Planning (Personal Development 110). Many electives may be used to complete the 60 units needed for a degree or to transfer.
In order to earn a Certificate in a subject, you may not need to complete any general education requirements. Certificate programs require that you complete only courses specific to that subject.
When selecting your first semester classes, you must utilize the online schedule of
classes to choose the courses that you know that you will need, being careful that
the class hours do not conflict. It is important to write down the 5-digit Course
Reference Numbers (CRN) for each course that you will enter into the registration
screen. Click on this link: schedule of classes to access the online class schedule.