3 Things to Consider About Your First Year College Classes
After taking more than 50 university classes during my undergrad and graduate degree I learned a couple things that would like to share with you. Firstly, do not enroll in huge classes with more than 40 students as you will probably not get as much from the class/professor as if you enroll in a smaller one. Especially during your first year it may be hard to get on small size classes, but if you can, just do it. The following 3 points are also key to keep in mind during your first year college classes.
Focus on getting only A’s or B’s in your classes. Typically the tough classes will come in your last semesters, so take advantage of your Freshman/Sophomore years to get really good grades. Always make sure that your GPA is at least 3.0, but a good target is 3.5 or more. Especially during your first year it should be easy to have a 3.5+ GPA. This will help you get scholarships and pass the first filters of some employers as they require students to have a minimum GPA of 3 or 3.5 to apply for a job.
“The lower the GPA, the more evidence we need to see of other competencies” Ernst & Young
Even if big companies like EY state publicly that they do not require a minimum GPA from students, trust me, I worked there and people will always consider your GPA. It is just common sense that when 2 students have the same experience and skills we tend to incline for the one with the highest GPA. Unless you have done really interesting side projects, you have an enchanting personality or you are a great leader, the GPA will always matter.
In most undergraduate and some graduate programs you will be able to take elective classes, or classes that are not required for your major but you need the credits to graduate or improve your GPA. There may be hundreds of classes you can take, and a lot may seem fun/interesting but make sure that the you choose are contributing to your career/goals as well.
One of my goals in undergraduate at UVU was to work for an international company so that I could travel and work in different countries. Therefore, I took Mandarin, French and Portuguese classes. I fell in love with Portuguese (Brazilian) so I focused on learning that language. It helped that the professor, Debora Ferreira, made the classes very interactive and gave us great resources/music to practice. At the time I did not know how it was going to help me but three years later, I did my interview with the EY partner in Portuguese as they had clients in Brazil, got the job, and worked in 5 different cities in Brazil for almost 2 months (One week was Carnaval so that one does not count, but was lots of fun).
So always have your goal in mind and take classes that will help you in any way achieve what you want. If you are still not sure what classes to take, I would recommend going on LinkedIn and searching for people who already have the job you want or work on a similar position, and see what classes, projects, and major they had in college/university. We will discuss LinkedIn in more detail on another article.
Take Public Speaking!
A class that I would recommend every student especially international students to take is Public Speaking! Yep it may sound difficult but if you work hard you will actually have fun and learn a lot. Public speaking is a big problem not only for international students but for everybody. It is the number one fear that people have, and it affects 3 out of 4 people! Before coming to the the US, I was a very shy person and never spoke in public before, so on my first semester in college I signed up for Public Speaking to see if it could help me gain some confidence.
Since I knew I had an accent I studied and practiced more than most people so my speech would sound more natural and exciting. I got an A in my class, but most importantly I became more confident about speaking in public and to people I did not know. I also took Public Speaking in grad school and got an A!
Reading motivational books was something that actually helped me a lot when taking classes because I was reading stories of people who had worse problems than me and still were able to became very successful. Some of the books that I read (while taking the bus to college) were: Chicken Soup for the Soul from Jack Canfield and Think and Grow Rich from Napoleon Hill. Please read these books (you probably can get them for free from your college library or just buy them online they are very cheap), I am certain that they will help and inspire you a lot.
To recap, ensure you get a 3.5+ GPA in your first college year, take electives that are aligned to your career and register for a public speaking class. If you do that, I am pretty confident that you will have more chances of getting scholarships and a great job pretty soon.
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