Academics
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First-year Deciding Majors

Registration advice for first year students still deciding a major

It is hard to pick courses without academic direction, but setting a specific goal as you build your first course schedule is important to help you get off to the best start. You may be tempted to put off course scheduling, or just bulk up on Core courses, but we think Deciding majors should register early, and  for choose a balanced set of courses for the first semester. This gives you a range of opportunities to discover an area of study you can learn to love.

Recommendations for first year, first semester courses for Deciding Majors


Academic Overview

Courses at Gordon College fall into three broad types. A student must accumulate a minimum of 124 credits to graduate, from a combination of these categories:

Your Major — (This will be the challenge if you are still deciding—but read on, we have advice.)

The Core — Gordon’s Common Core and Thematic Core course options are required of all students. The Core (56 credits) is not intended to be taken all at once, or to be “gotten out of the way.” Our Core is progressive: Common Core courses lay foundations for other courses, and Thematic Core courses may introduce you to a variety of areas of study and ways of thinking. We think these courses will complement, enhance and even challenge your learning within a specific major. Once you decide on your area of academic focus, you may find it enhances your understanding of the Core's role in your liberal arts learning. It paints the landscape in which your chosen area(s) of study finds deeper meaning.

Electives — Courses of your choice, based on interest or curiosity. Some electives may help you discover new areas of learning, or extend an area of study. Some electives can be courses within a major, compose a minor, or simply be assembled from a variety of academic departments based on your own goals for learning or practice.

Course loads and course schedules

  • At Gordon, courses meet Mon/Wed/Fri (60 minutes each), or Tues/Thurs (90 minutes each), or on just one day each week for 3 hours (such as Wednesday 6 to 9 p.m.). Courses can start as early as 7:30 a.m., and some courses may run through 9 p.m.
  • Two events and times common to the whole campus are Chapel (Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:25 to 11:05 a.m.) and Convocation (Fridays 10:25 to 11:05 a.m.). No courses meet at these times.
  • A typical course load is 12 to 18 credits per semester, with each credit-bearing course having 1, 2 or 4 credits (4 is most common). So you may have 3 to 5 courses in your schedule to make up those credits.
  • A common first-year courseload is 14 to 16 credits, and if you want to give yourself room to make the best transition to college, or you are on the roster of a fall or winter intercollegiate athletics team, then 12 to 14 credits in your first semester may be a good choice.
    • For most academic majors this will not set you behind for a four-year/eight-semester graduation pace. However, there are a couple of majors which are very rigorously scheduled. So, tell us if you have any interest in majoring in education (which requires a double major), music, or the sciences.

What should I sign up for in my first semester?

Tempting as it is to bulk up on Core courses, we recommend that you do not. Likewise, taking a number of random courses without a clear goal may make it hard for you to discover an area of study to build your learning upon. Instead, we hope to get you off to the best start with this suggested first year Deciding Major selection paradigm.