Academic Goals for the First Year

The initial goal for first-year students is to make the transition to life at Carleton. They should plan to take a variety of courses from different areas of the curriculum in order to explore new subjects and to refine their reading, writing, and speaking skills. They should also look for opportunities to work collaboratively with their peers. Most students report that during their first year they become more reflective about their own learning processes and learn to manage their time better, while dealing with the challenges of college life.

The first-year and the beginning of the sophomore year should put students in a position to commit to a major with as much information as possible about their academic alternatives as well as their own interests and abilities.

[Adapted from the ECC Subcommittee on First-Year Academic Experience, April 1999.]

Focus on Graduation Requirements

How concerned should first-year students be with fulfilling the graduation requirements (i.e., curricular exploration, global citizenship, writing, quantitative reasoning, and physical education requirements)? These requirements exist to guide students and encourage them to experiment with a wide variety of courses. In principle, these courses may be taken at any time during the four years of a Carleton student’s career, but given the need to work on a major during especially the final two years, and the advantages of experimenting with different disciplines and area early on, students usually fulfill these requirements during their first six terms.

It is most advisable for students to fulfill their Foreign Language Requirement as soon as possible. The Writing Portfolio Requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the sophomore year.

In addition to these graduation requirements, students must complete the requisite number of total credits and complete at least a single major, including the integrative exercise in that major.

Related links: Graduation Requirements

Registration Time

Normally students are assigned a registration number by class year. In any one year, students will register in the first third, the second third, and the third third of their class.

Note that the choices of a student registering in the last third of the class are going to be relatively constrained. However, a late registration time for one term is compensated by earlier times in the other terms.

* Remind students to be mindful of when they are registering.

Priority Registration

Priority Registration gives an advantage to students who might otherwise be registering too late to get into certain classes.

Sophomore priority means sophomores have first dibs on a course, then frosh, then seniors, and then juniors. This has had particular salience in the sciences where poor planning has led to students being closed out of courses like Organic Chemistry or Intro to Geology.

Related links: Registration Regulation and Procedures

Things to Consider About A Course Program

  • Does it focus only on courses that require daily assignments or does it offer flexibility in work load?
  • Are reading, math/science, and language courses balanced?
  • Is it a full 18 credits? (** see below)
  • Is there a good balance between introductory courses and other courses the student finds challenging?

** Why 18 credits? Students can not drop below 12 credits under any circumstance. Students enrolled in 16 credits who want to drop a 6 credit class to avoid an F grade cannot do so.

If you have a question about the suitability of a course or course level, you (or the student) can contact the instructor, department chair, or program director directly.

Courses in the Sciences

For information about the Sciences, see the websites for Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Physics based on different levels of high school experience.

Language Requirement

Information about Carleton’s Language Requirement

First-year Students Registering for Winter Term (in the Fall)

In addition to academic questions, the following are suggested topics to discuss at your advising session:

  • How are things going?
  • Have you had difficulty with anything?
  • What have you found most surprising about college? About Carleton?
  • How are you liking your classes?
  • Have you had opportunities to meet other students and to start making friends?

First-year Students Registering for Spring Term (in the Winter)

Possible questions:

  • Have you taken a WR course and are you saving a paper from your writing requirement class for your portfolio?
  • Are there things you were hoping to accomplish this year that you haven’t accomplished yet?
  • What are you doing to manage your time?
  • Are you thinking of off-campus study for next year?
  • Have you completed a “student profile” indicating your interests, activities, etc?

First-year Students Registering for Fall Term (in the Spring)

This will probably be your final meeting for the year. Some things to consider:

  • Progress in thinking about a major: consider courses which will help narrow the field.
  • For students who are fairly certain of a major: consider taking at least one course to challenge that choice.
  • Accomplishments: how has college life has gone so far?
  • How might things be done differently next year?
  • Remember to save hard copies of papers and assignments (preferably in the writing portfolio–we’ve had computer crashes).
  • Have you looked into any of the Career Pathways yet?  If not, let’s take a few minutes to look at a couple of them together.