After you have chosen your First Year Seminar, you normally have three other courses to select.

You will want to be aware of Middlebury College’s Degree Requirements as you think about which courses to take, but often you do not need to worry about them a great deal at this early stage, as long as you pick a variety of courses, and you are willing to challenge yourself without trying to do the impossible. The degree requirements are designed to help you achieve a liberal arts education that is both broad and deep, and if you have that principle in mind as you select courses during your first semester—if you follow the tips below—you will probably have little difficulty positioning yourself to fulfill the requirements by time you graduate. Remember, you have four years and twelve terms!

More about the Registration Procedure.

Choosing Courses

First-year students should seek to balance their course loads by both interest and type. Different kinds of courses have different rhythms during the semester.  To find out the appropriate course, you may in some cases need to take a placement exam. See the Placement Examination chart for more information.

A valuable resource in course selection is also the First Year Registration Booklet, which features recommendations by all departments of courses appropriate for first-year students to take.

Balanced Course Load

To create a balanced course load, try selecting courses that fit these criteria. [You should select several courses to match each category below. Back-up options are necessary when you don’t get into your first or second choice.]

  • courses in subject areas you enjoy or feel you are good at 
  • courses that prompt you to explore, experiment, try something new
  • courses that might ultimately contribute to a major later on

Remember: During your first semester, avoid taking two courses in the same department. The First Year Seminar Program is separate from all other departments and programs, so it is alright to take another course in the department to which your First Year Seminar instructor belongs. Do so only if you and your advisor determine a reasonable variety of courses will result.

Things to Keep in Mind

Courses with dense reading, 1-4 papers, and exams:

  • Art History
  • Literature (English and American Literatures, Comparative Literature, Literature in languages)
  • History
  • Religion
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology-Anthropology
  • Geography
  • Political Science 

Remember, your First Year Seminar is the only College Writing course you can take in your first semester.

Courses with daily homework, frequent quizzes and drills, presentations, and tests:

  • Beginning and intermediate languages.

Remember, you cannot take two introductory language courses at the same time.

Courses with some reading, labs, quizzes, problem sets, exams:

  • Economics
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Natural Sciences

Courses with time intensive, “hands-on” tests, some reading, presentations, group work, concerts/performances:

  • Music
  • Studio Art
  • Theatre
  • Dance
  • Film/Video