One of the most exciting expectations of starting university is deciding what you would like to study. Many students get excited by the prospect of finally getting to focus on the subject of their choosing or focus on an area that has always interested them.
So how do you decide what courses you would like to take? How do you register? Is there a cap on the number of students who can take a class? Will you have to fight someone for a spot? Is it going to be like the Hunger Games? These are all questions we are sure many of you have (okay, maybe not the Hunger Games one, but the rest for sure).
To answer many of these questions, let us take a step by step look at choosing your courses. Keep in mind that a detailed guide will be coming to you very soon from the Faculty of Arts and Science. This blog post is simply to help get you ready and give you some information.
Step 1 – Research the courses that are available to you.
You can find the full list of First Year Course Offerings on the BISC Website –
The courses listed on the website provide you with three details: the course code, course weight (3.0 or 6.0 units), course name, and a short description of what the course is about. You may notice the red letters “F” / “W” / “FW” underneath the course codes. These letters identify the length of the course. “F” stands for Fall semester (September – December), “W” stands for Winter semester (January – April) and “FW” means that the course will run during both the Fall and Winter semesters (September – April). I would highly recommend taking a look through the courses to identify what interests you. Note the key at the top of the page explaining how many units each course is worth (i.e. 6.0 unit or 3.0 unit courses) as it will be important for your next steps.
Your first year in Arts and Science is meant to be an introductory year. You will find that most subjects only have one course available for your first year (e.g. English only has one course – ENGL 100). This is because those first year courses are meant to introduce you to studying the subject at a University level; think of them as “gateway” courses. Your first year is all about trying out a bunch of courses in many disciplines and then at the end of your first year, you can decide which of those subjects (e.g. Film, Global Development Studies, Psychology, etc.) you would like to major or specialize in. All majors or specializations in the Faculty of Arts are open to students doing their first year at the BISC. You just need to ensure that you take the related first year course and meet the academic requirements for entrance into the academic discipline of your choice. For example, if you want to major in Global Development Studies, you would have to take the Global Development Studies first year course DEVS 100. In order to find out what courses you need to take / the academic requirements for the various specializations, head on over to the Queen’s Arts & Science Faculty website:
On this website, you will find the various disciplines that you can major / specialize in. Look through them, identify what the first year courses are, and what grades and/or overall Grade Point Average (GPA) are required. Keep in mind that these are the thresholds from last year (2012) and they still have to be updated for 2013 (this should happen sometime over the next academic year).
Now that you know which courses you need to take, finalize your list of courses for the BISC. All Queen’s Students have enrollment appointments in the summer to choose their courses. One of the great things about doing your first year at the BISC is that we help with your course selection. Students who ARE attending SOAR (our orientation on July 19th or 20th – pick one day to attend) will sit down with an academic advisor during SOAR and they will register you in the courses that you would like to take. Students who are NOT attending SOAR will have academic advisors available to them via phone or Skype appointments. More information about SOAR and the phone/Skype appointments will be sent to prospective students very soon.
When you meet / speak to your academic advisor, come ready with the list of courses you are interested in taking; a preparation sheet is included in the course registration manual that you will be receiving with your invitation to BISC SOAR. They will counsel you on your selection and intended plan and then they will register you in your courses. A fantastic feature about the BISC is that we schedule your courses after you have selected them, which means that you do not have to worry about conflicts and timetable hassles when selecting your courses. We also don’t do first come/first serve which means that even if you do a phone advising appointment before SOAR, you can still get a space in the course. So there is no need for you to do this –
Once you have registered for your courses, you will be set to start studying at the BISC. During you first year, keep in mind that you may need a certain grade or average in order to major / specialize in the subject of your choice so be sure to keep those grades up! If you need extra help or advice, be sure to use the BISC academic resources like the BISC Academic Advisors, going to professor’s office hours, etc.
In March, our Arts and Science Academic Advisors come to the Castle from Kingston to advise and help you choose your plan / specialization. Be sure to sign up for an appointment with them when they come -
So there you have it! You have an entire summer to prepare and a ton of choices to choose from. This is always a very exciting time for new students and we can’t wait to see what you decide to study. Now that you know you won’t be fighting against the other “districts”, feel free to go online and check out what courses are at your fingertips this year!
“When I was your age, we didn’t have any of this fancy…”