Planning Your First Quarter - Freshman Students

We want to provide some suggestions as to the types of courses you should consider taking during your first quarter. It is important for you to realize that there is no established program of courses you should take. Your decisions about courses should be based upon what you want to create for yourself in your college education.

You can review descriptions of courses in the UC Davis General Catalog and on Schedule Builder.  Choose courses that interest you. UC Davis offers over 300 lower division courses that are appropriate for new students. Lower division courses are numbered 1-99. Upper division courses are 100-199 and are generally taken beginning in third year. Some of these courses will introduce major areas of study; others will provide necessary background in writing, mathematics, and critical thinking.

Will the courses you choose satisfy requirements for graduation?

Yes! Every course you take at this stage in your academic career will meet some requirement. Before you graduate, you must complete at least 180 units. Many of these units will be in your major field of study, but many will be from other courses you choose in the sciences, the humanities and fine arts, and the social sciences.

What courses should you choose for your first quarter?

Your choices are many, but here are some guidelines:

  • English Composition If you haven't satisfied the Entry Level Writing Requirement (ELWR), it is very important to begin making progress towards satisfaction immediately. You may be required to take courses like UWP21, 22, 23, and WLD57. If you have met the ELWR, consider taking other courses stressing more advanced work in composition during your first year: Comparative Literature (COM) 1, 2, 3 or 4, English (ENL) 3, Native American Studies (NAS) 5, or University Writing Program (UWP) 1.

  • Mathematics provides the basis for work in all of the sciences. If you are interested in studying science, enroll in the level of mathematics that is appropriate for your placement exam score. If you are interested in a major in the mathematical or physical sciences (chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, physics, statistics) you should plan on taking the Mathematics 21 calculus series; majors in all other areas of natural science and social science will accept the Mathematics 16 or 17 calculus sequence.

  • Select courses that will introduce you to the subject matter of an area you might choose as a major. Almost all majors offer introductory level courses recommended for students in their first quarter. (However, there are some important exceptions: For example, Biological Sciences 2A, Economics 1A and 1B are more suitable for the sophomore year.)

  • Choose courses that interest you. Choose courses representing topic areas that are of particular importance to you as a citizen of the world. You have the opportunity to take courses at a University level that you may have never considered before:  courses in cultural diversity, in world peace, environmental issues, art, drama, literature, music appreciation. Any course that you choose for your first quarter will apply towards your degree. There really are no wrong courses to take.

  • Foreign Language coursework is required for all students who plan to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree. These students must be proficient at the 15 unit level in a single language, the equivalent of course 3 in most languages. Many students elect to continue studying a language they began in high school. If you choose to do this, sign up for the course level that seems most appropriate for the background you have. If you decide to review by taking course 1 (and have completed a second or more advanced year of the language in the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade), you will be graded on a Pass/Not Pass basis rather than receiving a letter grade. As with mathematics, you should confirm your entry level by taking the appropriate Foreign Language Placement Examination offered at the beginning of the quarter. If you are already fluent in a language other than English you do not necessarily need to take more classes, (please consult with your academic counselor).

How many courses should you take your first quarter?

We typically recommend that your first quarter schedule consist of courses totaling 13-15 units. To make expected progress toward obtaining your baccalaureate degree you must average 15 units per quarter, so it is important that you plan on completing at least 45 units by the end of the year, and an additional 45 units at the end of each subsequent year.

Instructors will expect you to spend two hours in out-of-class preparation for every hour that you spend in class. For example, a 15 unit course load implies 45 hours of work on your part every week (15 hours in class and 30 hours outside of class). You should consider this workload as you plan your first quarter.