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Three Terms, Three Classes, So Many Options…

Avery takes you through the trimester system and class registration.

Avery takes you through the trimester system and class registration.

How Does Carleton’s Trimester System Work?

You may or may not know that Carleton doesn’t have semesters like other schools… We have trimesters! I wasn’t familiar with the trimester system before coming here and I definitely had a lot of questions about how it would work!

Currently, I am taking three, 6 credit courses. Now, you may be thinking: “Avery! Three classes is so few!” and well, yes.

Three classes didn’t seem like it could possibly be enough at first, but this allows for more in-depth exploration into the course and all that it has to offer. And honestly, the rigorous course load would make it hard to focus on more than three subjects!

Depending on what you want to do, you also have the option of taking an extra, 1-2 credit course (such as PE or Music). These sorts of classes allow you to explore and further structure your day, while still focusing on your three main academic classes.


Registration for classes happens several weeks before the end of the term (Winter 2021 courses just got posted) and it is both exciting and nerve racking! I am currently thinking about how to find a balanced course load, which meets graduation requirements and also expands my world. And this makes choosing only 3 classes even more difficult!

With only three classes per term, you definitely have to be purposeful about what you’re interested in…

I am currently thinking about taking Spanish (a part of the language requirement at Carleton), Intro to Educational Studies (but Sophomores get priority, so I have my finger crossed) and either Computer Science (*gulp*) or “Art and (Un)Freedom” with visiting theater professor Lizbett Benge. People get assigned 24 hour periods in which they can register for their desired classes. Freshman get last pick (welcome to being at the bottom of the food chain again)!

Do You Make All of These Choices Alone?!

No! You get assigned an academic advisor who meets with you once before the term starts and halfway through the term! They will help you figure out how to best apply yourself throughout this process, guiding you along the way. My adviser is super helpful and is currently checking out my language placement!

While you may feel like registration decisions are impossible to make, your advisor is there to help you navigate the process.

What Does A Liberal Arts Education Look Like?

One key element of Carleton’s distribution requirements is to ensure that Carls are expanding their worldview, in all different fields! If you are someone who is inclined to only take art classes, the Liberal Arts requirements ensure that you will also use different parts of your brain, maybe taking a Computer Science class or a Bio Lab.

All in all, the distribution requirements ensure that your time here is spent engaging yourself in all academic fields (a true liberal arts experience)!

After taking a gap year and exploring the world outside of the classroom, Avery is ready to start her freshman year at Carleton! You can find her out in the Arb trying to identify plant species or in the Libe reading about abolitionist education theory and working class movements of the 20th and 21st centuries. Her passions and interests align most with American Studies, Education Studies, and History. Meet the other bloggers!