Although I pretty much have my academic future mapped out for me in terms of classes, I started out in pretty rough shape. Freshman year I managed to take about five classes for their requirements that ended up meaning absolutely nothing later, as I had fulfilled those requirements in a different way. Colby recommends getting all of these required areas out of the way as soon as you can, but I would recommend to do the opposite, especially if you have at least some vague idea of what you might want to major in. I guess the point of taking these distribution requirements as a freshman is so it either gives you an idea of what you want to study in the future, or reinforces the current choice you’ve made. Which, I guess, is a legitimate reason for Colby wanting us to take them as soon as we can. But in my experience, most people end up grabbing most of those required areas by default by the time they graduate: either by taking a fun looking JanPlan, some course in your major that somehow fits another requirement, or a course outside your major as a prerequisite for a class within your field of study.
I remember back to that day in August when I saw that courses for incoming freshman opened up and I only had a couple weeks to choose: I was completely overwhelmed. So, since I had no idea what I was going to study at the time, I thought it would be best to just take classes within the required areas. A quick sampling of the classes I ended up taking over the course of the entire year: Single Variable Calc, Intro Sociology, and a JanPlan course called News Literacy. Calc seemed like a wonderful way to fulfill the quantitative requirement, right? Well, considering I’m now a Computer Science major/minor.. probably not. I took Sociology for the domestic diversity requirement.. and I’m a gov major taking all domestic politics classes. Smart again. News Literacy was an amazing JanPlan that I thought would go towards my government major, but never checked the department website to see that it in fact didn’t.
So, the bottom line here is to not panic too much about getting rid of the required areas. They’re easy. If you needed to, you could probably save them all until senior year, in theory. But like I said before, you’ll definitely be fulfilling most of them just because you need an extra course or something. If I was a freshman again, I’d merely take the four classes that look the most interesting to me and pay no heed to the various areas. Right now, I’m a gov major with a computer science minor, hoping to turn the minor into a major and possibly do honors projects for both. While I think I’ll end up being able to cram both of them in, (barely) I definitely wish those few seemingly unimportant course choices freshman year went a little bit differently. That would mean my schedule could be a bit lighter senior year, there’d be less uncertainty as to if I can fit my major or not, more freedom deciding to go abroad and maybe I’d have a couple more hours at senior pub night next year.