If you’re getting ready to start college for the first time, you are probably wondering what the classes will be like. To ease your way into the college experience, you may want to take some easy courses to begin with. Not all college classes involve copious note taking, multi-page papers, and rigorous exams. For some, as long as you show up and complete the assignments, you can get a good grade.
Easy college classes provide a legitimate way to earn required credits, without taxing your brain too much, and they aren’t just for freshmen or dummies. Honors students enjoy taking an easy class once in a while, too. If you are trying to stay on the Dean’s List, you can raise your GPA (and maintain your sanity) by taking one or more easy classes at the same time you have to take a particularly tough course.
An easy class cannot be guaranteed, since it depends on the college and the instructor. Even the same course can vary in difficulty depending on who is teaching it. Some professors make it a whole lot more time-consuming when it comes to homework than it needs to be. It’s the same with the way they grade, including tests, as to how strict they are. Also, a class that is simple for one person may be difficult for another, so look for those that pique your interests and capitalize on your talents (e.g. art, music, or writing).
In general, science labs are more demanding just because there’s extra work involved. Humanities classes typically require a lot of reading, writing, and research. A foreign language course may be easy or hard depending on your familiarity with the language. Math classes can be difficult if you’re not good at math, and English classes can be challenging if you’re not good at writing. (But remedial versions of Math and English are commonly available.)
Easy college classes can often be recognized by these signs:
- Low course number (100-level or below; courses starting with 0 are remedial).
- Fewer credit hours (3 or less) [except for some math classes; see bonus tip]
- No prerequisites or approval of instructor required.
- “Beginning,” “Intro to,” “Survey of,” or “Concepts of” classes.
- Courses intended for students not majoring in the subject. Note that in many departments there will be two introductory courses: one for majors and one for non-majors. The one for non-majors will usually be lower-numbered. Typical course titles might be Intro to Chemistry or Basic Chemistry for non-majors and Chemistry I or General Chemistry for majors.
- No lab requirement. Some science lectures must be taken with the accompanying lab, but non-majors can sometimes just enroll in the lecture portion only. (Keep in mind, though, most colleges do require a minimum number of lab credits.)
- “Whatever and Society” are easy courses at many colleges; i.e. Plants and Society, Chemistry and Society, etc.
- Depending on the college, there might be some other phrase found in certain course titles that designates them as being really easy.
The following courses are likely suspects:
- Art of Storytelling
- Ballroom Dancing
- Basic Math
- Career Exploration
- Ceramics I
- Children’s Literature
- College Success
- Computers & Applications
- Conversational Spanish
- Cooking/Culinary Arts
- Drawing I
- Fitness for Life
- Foods of the U.S.
- Fundamentals of Digital Photography
- Healthful Living
- History of Motion Pictures
- Introduction to Astronomy
- Introduction to Computers for Non-Majors
- Introduction to Human Geography
- Introduction to World Religions
- Introduction to the Theatre
- Jazz: Its Origins, Styles, and Influence
- Marriage & Family Life
- Media, Culture, and Society
- Music Appreciation
- Physical Education
- Poetry Study
- Pop Culture
- Social Media
- Survey of Art
Of course, there’s always the old standby of Underwater Basket Weaving! That phrase seems to have originated in the 1950s in the context of easy classes taken by student athletes, but the class has actually been taught at various colleges over the years. While it may bring to mind images of students weaving reeds on the bottom of the campus pool, underwater basket weaving actually involves making baskets by dipping reeds into water and letting them soak.
Here’s another tip…
See if the college has a popular flagship course that everyone likes to take just because they can. For example, Northern Arizona University offers “Arizona Forests & Wildlife,” which fills up fast and always has a wait list – NAU students are called “Lumberjacks” after all! This is a fun and easy elective class even for those not majoring in forestry, to learn more about the trees and animals around campus. The college that you are attending may have something similar.
Bonus tip: the clue may be in the course number.
At Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, the number of course credits earned for a particular math course correspond to the last digit of the course number. Generally, the higher the last digit, the fewer the number of academic instruction hours per week. This translates to a more accelerated learning pace and greater expectation for work outside of the classroom. For example, PVCC offers three Intermediate Algebra classes: MAT120, MAT121, and MAT122. The content of these courses is the same, but the pace and amount of in-class work are different.
- MAT120 = 5 hours per week of classroom instruction. This course is designed for students who will benefit from a slower learning pace and additional time on task with an instructor.
- MAT121 = 4 hours of classroom instruction per week. The pace is more accelerated than the course ending with a 0, but not as accelerated as the course ending with a 2.
- MAT122 = 3 hours of classroom instruction per week. This course is designed for students with very strong prerequisite skills, and they will be expected to do more on their own outside of class.
Still not sure? Ask an Advisor!
An academic advisor can help you select the right classes for your first semester based on your placement test results, desired major, and personal situation. Usually you will be enrolled in beginning classes that establish a foundation for advanced courses needed to graduate. Some colleges even have a “First Year Experience” program designed to help students transition from high school to college, or for any student entering college for the first time. Students enroll in 2-3 courses as a cohort (6-9 credit hours) and remain with the cohort throughout the first college semester. FYE tracks include built-in support services and mentoring.
What easy college classes have you taken? Leave a comment below!