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Advice for Choosing Courses

The option to choose from a variety of undergraduate courses is an exciting part of our for credit pre-college programs. In this article, Ryadah Heiskell, shares some tips and strategies when choosing courses.

Deciding on which for credit courses to enroll can be an exciting, and maybe even intimidating, for pre-college students. Below are a few suggestions I'd like to share to support pre-college students in making course selections.

Pay Close Attention to Prerequisites

Some courses have prerequisite requirements that students must meet in order to qualify for the course. A prerequisite is a specific course, or equivalent, that the student should have already taken before signing up for the course in question. For example, the prerequisite for our Applied Statistics course is college algebra or equivalent. This means that, if you have not already taken a college algebra course, or a course equivalent to it, you cannot enroll in the Applied Statistics course. 

Remember the Credit You are Earning is Pre-Matriculation Credit

You are taking actual college courses, which means actual college credit. At the end of the program, you will have a transcript from WashU for any credit courses you take. You will submit this transcript to every college or university you are applying to for undergraduate studies. Because you are enrolling in these courses before you are a full-time student at a college or university, the credits you are earning are considered pre-matriculation credits. Every university has its own pre-matriculation transfer credit policy, so do your research as you make your plans.

Be strategic. Research the schools you intend to apply to and see if they accept pre-matriculation credits, or if there is a limit to the number of credits they will accept.

  • Some students like to try to get some of their anticipated general education courses out of the way.
  • Some schools will allow you to “test out” of certain beginning level classes. Is there a subject that you feel confident enough to test out of versus just applying the credit you’ve already earned?
  • Be mindful of what AP courses you plan to enroll. If you are going to enroll in AP Psychology next year, you won't want to enroll in Intro to Psychology over the summer.

Grades matter. When considering transferring credits, remember that most schools require that a minimum grade be earned in order to be accepted. Make sure you are taking courses that you will take seriously and that you feel you can do well in.

Interests & Strengths

  • Do you know what you want to major in? Some students choose courses based on what they think they want their major to be.
  • Do you want to try something new? If there is a subject that you are interested in, but haven’t had much experience with yet, you could use this as an opportunity to get more familiar with it. Don’t be afraid to explore new things.
  • What are your strengths? Do you prefer tests or papers? What about long reading assignments or presentations? Sometimes you can guess what type of assignments a course will require, but often times, you won’t know until you get the syllabus on the first day.
  • Are you still a little unsure about the course you chose? Always choose a few back-up courses in case your first choices don't work for some reason. You will be able to add or drop courses. 


Ryadah was Pre-College Coordinator from 2018-2020 and now serves as Assistant Director for Undergraduate Admissions at WashU.