O.K. So I’ll take three courses my first term. How do I know which ones to take?

All students must pre-register online for one Argument and Inquiry Seminar, specially designed for first-year students. In order to enroll in one, you can find the link on the New Student Checklist on the New Student Website. 

Almost all students who have not fulfilled the language requirement enroll in a language class sometime during their first year. If you place into Spanish 103, for instance, you'll wait until spring term to enroll. If you decide to start Japanese, you'll want to enroll your first term.

What else? All departments have courses designed for incoming students. For complete course descriptions, see the academic catalog.

You will meet with your adviser during New Student Week and have a chance to drop/add courses you have registered for before classes begin.

How do I know what courses are available?

What do I need to know about the 3-3 calendar?

You may have already noticed unusual features of Carleton's calendar. In some ways, it resembles the quarter calendar some of your friends or siblings may be on, but there are significant differences. Our academic year is divided into three terms—roughly ten weeks in length—with the school year running from early September to early June. Students generally enroll in only three six-credit courses each term (credits for participating in music and drama activities are extra). You register three times a year, changing courses each term after talking with your adviser.

What does this mean in practical terms? For one thing, while students at semester schools have to fit their course work into eight terms over four years, Carleton students have twelve terms. A student planning to major in chemistry at a semester school probably needs to start chemistry the first term of the first year—the second semester at the latest—or the student will run into trouble fitting in all the requirements. Because you have twelve terms at Carleton, you can enter a major a bit later; in fact, Carleton students don't declare majors until the end of the sophomore year. As a result, Carleton professors recommend you spend some of your first year trying out new subjects.

What is a Minor?

All students at Carleton must complete an academic major. In addition, students may elect to complete a minor as part of their academic program. A minor represents either an integrated disciplinary or an interdisciplinary program of study that may strengthen and complement a major, but a student pursuing any major can potentially pursue a minor in a different discipline. Disciplinary minors recognize the students acquisition of in-depth knowledge of a single discipline; interdisciplinary minors recognize the completion of a program of study that links and integrates multiple academic disciplines. Minors are also intended to promote communities of learning and may offer opportunities to relate academic studies to issues that students confront outside of Carleton. Full descriptions of the minors are included in the alphabetical listing of departments and programs in the academic catalog on the Registrar's website.

Will I have an adviser to help me register?

You will be assigned a Liberal Arts Adviser after summer registration, but before you arrive on campus. To advise you over the summer we have a number of staff and students to help you -- their numbers are listed on your New Student Checklist, which was in Mailing #1. 

What is the purpose of academic advising?

Academic advising is an educational process intended to aid students in making decisions about their Carleton academic careers and lifelong career choices. Academic advisers for First- and Second-Year students are called "Liberal Arts Advisers" (whereas advisers for Juniors and Seniors are called "Major Advisers").  Liberal Arts Advisers coordinate course selection, discuss educational and career goals, and encourage students to consider questions of personal growth. Advisers also aid in planning academic programs and in referring students to other campus services. Students are responsible for pursuing this process as they deem appropriate for their needs; effective advising is only possible when communication yields an exchange of ideas.

First- and second-year Liberal Arts Advisers are assigned generally; that is, a student thinking of majoring in studio art might have a mathematician as an adviser, or an aspiring chemist may be advised by an English professor. This is not a problem. In addition to your Liberal Arts Adviser, department chairs are available to meet with students during New Student Week and throughout the year. RAs, New Student Week Leaders (NSWLs), and Student Department Assistants (SDAs) are also available during New Student Week and beyond. You will also have a chance to attend an Academic Fair during your first week on campus to meet with faculty and student representatives from various departments.

What do I need to know about Priority Registration?

Carleton students register in priority order. That means that for most courses, seniors register first and first-year students register last. However, for courses designated “sophomore priority,” sophomores register first, then first-year students, then seniors, and lastly juniors. Within each class, students register three times a year and are assigned three registration priority numbers, one for each trimester.

Practically speaking, this means you can’t always get into a course you want during the term you want to take it. When you have a “good” registration number, use it! You’ll soon learn which classes fill up quickly. If you have questions, your Liberal Arts Adviser, Resident Assistant (RA), or a student departmental adviser (SDA) can help you figure out how to strategize. Do keep in mind though that not all courses are offered every term.

Are courses at St. Olaf available to me?

Yes. By special arrangement and if space is available, students may take courses at St. Olaf College which are not offered at Carleton. These courses count as part of the total credit load for the term. Contact the St. Olaf Registrar's Office for more information.

When do Carleton students declare a major? If I already know what I want to major in, can I declare a major early?

Carleton students declare majors spring term of their sophomore year. Students cannot declare earlier. Why not? We expect you will spend at least part of your first two years exploring the different fields of study that are part of a liberal arts curriculum. It’s amazing how often interests change on encounter with different subjects at the college level! We really want first-year students to strive for variety and exploration in all the distribution groups. We know, though, that some students enter college already planning to major in a certain field, while others have narrowed the possibilities. If you think you know what you want to major in, check the department website to see if the department you are considering has suggested particular courses or sequences appropriate for first-year study.

What do those letters at the end of course descriptions mean?

Requirement Codes as indicated on each course description or in schedule of courses

  • AI = Argument and Inquiry Seminar (6 credits required)
  • ARP = Arts Practice (6 credits required)
  • FSR = Formal or Statistical Reasoning (6 credits required)
  • HI = Humanistic Inquiry (6 credits required)
  • IDS = Intercultural Domestic Studies (6 credits required)
  • IS = International Studies (6 credits required)
  • LA = Literary/Artistic Analysis (6 credits required)
  • LP = Language Proficiency, in a language other than English
  • LS = Science with Lab (6 credits required)
  • NE=No Exploration Credit
  • PE=Physical Education. (Four terms of physical education, all of which can be fulfilled by participation in approved club sports)
  • QRE = Quantitative Reasoning Encounter (3 courses required)
  • SI = Social Inquiry (6 credits required)
  • WR1=Designates the Writing Component of an AI Seminar
  • WR2 = Second Writing Rich Course (6 credits required)

What is a Curricular Exploration requirement?

Curricular Exploration requirements require you to take 36 credits in six different areas.  The specifics of this will be available in the Academic Catalog, but you needn’t worry about these requirements too much at first: no matter what you take your first term, you will inevitably be fulfilling some requirements.

Global Understanding requirements require you to take six credits in a course that deal with International Studies and six credits in a course that deals in Intercultural Domestic Studies as well as earn proficiency in a language other than English.

Quantitative Reasoning requires three courses designated as a “Quantitatively Rich Encounter.”

Writing requirements require you to take a first-year "Argument and Inquiry" seminar, an additional six credit writing course, and submit a revised writing portfolio the spring of your sophomore year.

Physical Education requirements require you to take four terms of physical education, all of which can be fulfilled by participating in approved club sports.

What has to be done to fulfill the writing requirement?

Carleton's writing requirement has three components. First, you must successfully pass an argument and inquiry seminar - a writing rich course. Second, you must turn in a portfolio by the middle of your sixth term at Carleton. Information on the portfolio can be found at Carleton's Writing Program website. You will also be receiving an actual portfolio when you arrive on campus. Third, you must complete another writing rich course sometime before you graduate. All writing rich courses are designated by a WR2 and are offered in most departments. 

What are the departmental policies on AP scores and placement?

Carleton policies governing placement/credit for AP and IB scores can be found in the Pre-Matriculation Work section of the Academic Catalog.

What should I do to prepare for placement tests?

The purpose of the placement tests is to make sure you get into the right course for you. Cramming for them is not going to be useful -- to you or to us. Reviewing a subject you probably haven't looked at for three months, though, is a good idea.

Do I have to take the placement tests?

Certain SAT II scores may exempt you from some placement tests. For specifics on other placement tests, view the Placement Testing information on the New Students site and Pre-Matriculation Work section of the Academic Catalog.