Rather than starting their first semester with introductory, survey classes, freshmen who have enough credit and pre-requisite experience are choosing to take 3000 level electives or to begin their required major classes.
Laura Dowd, the coordinator of Academic Advising, said although it does not happen often, if freshmen come in with enough Advance Placement credit or the pre-requisites, they have the option to take an upper-level course.
In general, Dowd says most freshmen are better off taking upper level language courses more than any other higher level class.
“A student with a foreign language AP credit can probably handle the first 3000 level foreign language class, but some would find it harder than they expect,” she said. “I don’t think freshmen can easily handle the workload of an upper level history class or English class, and they most likely wouldn’t be eligible for an upper level science or math class.”
Devon Griger, a freshman International Affairs and English major from Perry, took two 3000 level courses, introduction to comparative politics and honors theatre script analysis, her first semester. Although the upper-level classes were more difficult, she enjoyed the challenges the courses gave her, she said.
“For the first time in my life, I actually had to learn how to study,” she said. “I really had to think more and understand the material rather than just learning facts. It’s made me a better student because I now know I can handle the workload of more intense courses.”
Even though the challenge of the high level courses was exciting for Griger, she said at times, it was clear she was not on the same playing field as the older students.
“I was the only freshman in my international affairs class, so I felt that the older students, who have taken more classes in their major already, had a much wider knowledge base than I did,” she said. “It was intimidating. They were already used to the college experience when I clearly wasn’t.”
Maria Cox, a freshman English major from Peachtree City, said her 3000 level class was by far the most difficult, but the most rewarding.
“[Script Analysis] was my lowest grade first semester,” Cox said. “However, at the end of the semester, I was incredibly proud of the effort I made and the success I achieved.”
When choosing whether to take the upper-level courses, both Griger and Cox said their advisers had the most influence on them.
“Honestly, all of my high school teachers and older friends told me not to start with [the upper-level] classes,” Griger said. “But my adviser told me that since I already had credit from my pre-requisite class, I should just get into my major, which sounded like a great idea.”
However, despite the achieved pre-requisites, it didn’t occur to Griger how difficult the 3000 level courses would be, which she wished she knew before taking the class.
“My adviser should have made it more clear that upper-level courses require more time and more focus than intro level classes,” she said. “I wish he had helped me piece together my schedule more so that I hadn’t been overwhelmed.”
When deciding whether to take a high level course, freshmen should know what to expect before they sign up on OASIS, Cox said.
“Only after receiving the syllabus should you decide whether to take the class,” she said. “You should only be taking the class if you’re genuinely interested in the material because that interest is what makes the class worthwhile.”
Dowd said students should only accept the challenge if they believe they are prepared and willing to put in the effort the upper level-classes require.
“[Proficient freshmen] will do fine in an upper-level class if they qualify to take it and if they are serious, dedicated and diligent students,” Dowd said.