Thoughts About Course Selection from the College Counseling Office
There is no single “best” way to construct a course load. Graduation requirements aside, each student must select courses that make sense in terms of interest and ability.
That being said, please keep the following principles in mind while making decisions about course selection:
First and foremost, play to your strengths. If you are a strong science student, for instance, make sure you take the most challenging course sequence you can manage in that discipline. Don’t play it safe to get the A; challenge yourself. Colleges will respect that sort of intellectual integrity.
At the same time, don’t overreach. Challenge yourself, but do not overwhelm yourself. There are a few of us who excel at everything we do, but most of us must make peace with the fact that we will not shine everywhere. So, be ambitious but also wise and realistic in your course selections.
Another point: think of your academic career as creating a sort of crescendo effect, each year building powerfully to the next, so that, by the end of your time at Milton, you are working at full capacity, doing your most dynamic and significant work. Put another way, do not relax your efforts over time; if anything, intensify them.
Just as college essays ask you to think about the central narrative lines of your life, so, too, selecting courses asks you to give some thought to central themes, stories in your intellectual life. Yes, there will be a number of required courses. But, as you begin contemplating elective courses, consider how those electives connect with each other and with the required courses. When you look at your course load, what sort of academic “self portrait” emerges? Are the choices you are making for the coming year consistent with that portrait? How do they fit into the larger picture of who you are as a student? Explore, but try to explore in a way that builds on what you have already discovered.
Finally, do not shape your academic experience according to what you think the colleges might want. Ultimately, your time at Milton should be about growing as fully as possible into your true academic self. If you pick courses that test and stretch you but also intrigue and inspire you, you will grow in compelling ways, and, by natural consequence, you will become the authentic person that colleges find so attractive. You will have structural integrity.
Former Academic Dean Jackie Bonenfant discusses course planning