Suggestions for Selecting Courses

Our Entrance Advising and Course Registration process is well underway. For those who were unable to attend scheduled Entrance Advising videoconferences or whose Academic Form information did not require detailed entrance advising correspondence, we have provided a video recording of a typical advising session which you may find useful.

The Associate Dean of the College, the Registrar, and entrance advising faculty and staff will be registering students for classes over the final weeks of July. Students do not need to take additional steps unless instructed to. All students will be notified of their course schedule by July 31.

The suggestions on this page are meant to guide you as you complete page one of your Academic Form, which was the first step in the registration process and should have been completed by June 15, 2017. You may also want to refer back to this page in preparation for your meeting with your faculty advisor during Fall Orientation or after reviewing the recording above.

You will need access to the following documents as your review this page and complete the Academic Form (available on the New Student mySMC Portal page):

Course Selection Overview

At Saint Michael’s, students typically take four four-credit courses each semester. We also offer a number of half-courses (two credits each). Full-time tuition allows students to take four or four and a half courses each semester, or a maximum of 18 credits. Students who take at least three full courses (12 credits) are considered full-time students. Students need 128 credits to graduate (which is the equivalent of four courses per semester for eight semesters).

If you have taken Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate program courses, you may also want to review our policy for rewarding credit for those courses, as detailed on this Registrar's Office page. In almost all instances, students who receive AP credit for a course should not request to take that course at Saint Michael's.

In their first semesters, most students will take four courses, though for many reasons students choose to take only three or three and a half. Please let your entrance advisor know if you wish to start with fewer than four courses.

In choosing classes, students should select a mix of courses that will fulfill requirements of their major (or potential major), those that fulfill Liberal Studies Curriculum requirements (more below), and other courses of interest. The best first-semester schedule for you will be one that introduces you to ideas and information that will create a foundation for future success, one that balances modes of academic inquiry (i.e., not all courses in the sciences or not all writing-intensive courses), and, most importantly, one that is interesting and engaging. Follow the guidelines below to work with us in crafting such a schedule for you.

Declaring a Major and Choosing Major Courses

The first step in choosing your first set of courses is choosing the major you plan to pursue at Saint Michael’s. You can review majors and their requirements on this page. If you’re not sure in what field you want to major or want to spend some time as a college student before choosing, that’s great: about one-quarter of first-year students enter Saint Michael’s as Exploratory students. On the Academic Form, choose the major you wish to pursue or choose Exploratory. We will treat the major you submit on this form as your intended major, replacing (or reiterating) the major you submitted on your Saint Michael’s admissions application. (Except for education students, a first-semester student can have only one major. Students who earn a 3.0 GPA after their first semester (or later) may declare a double major.)

After choosing your major (or exploratory status), review the Recommended Major Courses for First-Year Students, and identify the courses you’ll need to take or to choose from in your first semester. Exploratory students should look over the courses for majors they are considering. You can review the descriptions of those courses in Courses Open to First-Year Students. List those courses in the order of your preference on the Academic Form. (Some majors will have only one option and won't need to submit multiple choices. For example, Economics majors will enter only EC-101: Principles of Macroeconomics; Art majors will select only AR-201: Foundations in Art.)

First-Year Seminar, Liberal Studies Curriculum Courses, and Other Electives

Some students will have the majority of their schedule comprised of courses fulfilling major requirements, and others will have only one course in their major. In selecting courses outside your major, you should consider fields in which you have experience and a strong interest as well as courses in areas or subjects which you might have never before had opportunity to study. Our Liberal Studies Curriculum (LSC) provides opportunities for students to experience both. You should review categories of courses in which you’re required to take courses over your four years by following this link. Over their four years, students may choose to waive the requirement in one LSC category (excepting First-Year Seminar, the first semester of the 2nd-language requirement (which may still be met by proficiency testing), and one course in both Philosophy and Religious Studies). You should, however, simply choose first-semester courses based on interest and setting foundations for progress.

In submitting possible courses for your schedule on the Academic Form, you should first decide if you wish to take a First-Year Seminar in your first semester. Approximately 2/3 of first-year students are in a seminar in their first semester, and we have found that the small class size and the fact that the courses are discussion- and writing-oriented helps with the transition to college learning. For a variety of reasons, including scheduling around lab sections or athletic contests, some students choose to or must wait to take a First-Year Seminar, and such students thrive as well. If you wish to start out in a first-year seminar, you should review the descriptions of our seminars on the First-Year Seminar Overview and enter your first choice and two acceptable alternatives in the appropriate section on the Academic Form.

We would also like for you to provide as many as eight possible courses you would be interested in taking in your first semester. Review the Courses Open to First-Year Students (descriptions include a note about which LSC category (or categories) a course fulfills) and submit your choices in order of preference in the appropriate section of the Academic Form. We recommend that students select a mix of courses fulfilling different LSC categories (e.g., in addition to a major course and a first-year seminar, a well-rounded schedule might include a course in Religious Studies or Philosophy and a course in Political Science, or a course in English or History and a mathematics course), so try to provide a wide range of classes that might interest you. It is not necessary that all your courses fulfill requirements; all students will be able to complete a major and the LSC with plenty of open "electives." So, if you see a course listed that is very interesting to you and which you feel will make your first-semester an exciting one, don't hesitate to include it.

Second Language Placement Tests and Calculus Placement Test

The Second Language requirement at Saint Michael's requires students to complete or place out of the equivalent of two semesters of college-level language learning. Students can meet the requirement in four ways:

  1. Pass the 101 and 102 courses (101/211 in Latin and Greek) at Saint Michael's in any language (students may possibly place into 102 via the placement test and successfully meet the requirement in one semester).
  2. Score a 3 or higher (4 in Latin) on a language Advanced Placement exam.
  3. Achieve the following scores on an SAT Subject Test: Modern Hebrew - 510; Chinese - 590; Italian, Japanese, Latin, or Spanish - 600; French - 610.
  4. Test out of the requirement via the Saint Michael's Placement Test (info below)

Students who have met the language requirement via testing may wish to continue studying that language at Saint Michael's. You should request an upper-level course in your language via the placement chart below, which will be confirmed by the on-campus written tests available during summer 2017 or at Fall Orientation.

Placement tests in French and Spanish have both online and in-person written components. Please find the instructions for and access to the placement test on this page. After taking the online component, students who score 240 or above in that system must take a written placement exam on campus, available any weekday during summer 2017 (please email jviens@smcvt.edu to let us know when you’ll be here) or on Thursday of Fall Orientation (August 24).

After taking the online portion of the exam for French or Spanish, you should request placement at the following levels based on the following scores (with placement confirmed by the written portion):

  • Scores between 0-258:  Select FR/SP 101
  • Scores between 259-319: Select FR/SP 102
  • Scores between 320-369: Select FR/SP 203 (if desired)
  • Scores 370 and above: Select FR/SP 206

Students who have studied languages other than French or Spanish and wish to continue in college or to place out of the Second Language requirement must take a written placement exam on campus, available any weekday during summer 2017 (please email jviens@smcvt.edu to let us know when you’ll be here) or on Thursday of Fall Orientation (August 24). All students with any amount of language experience are encouraged to take the test to determine appropriate placement.

If you have studied a language other than French or Spanish in high school for three or more years, you should select the second semester course in that language (or higher if you feel very confident in your abilities) on your Academic Form, and placement will be confirmed via the written test. If you studied one or two years, you should request the first semester course. It is possible you will be placed ahead based on testing.

The Calculus Placement Test is an important part of the registration process for any student who wishes to take calculus at Saint Michael’s or for whom calculus is a major requirement. This includes anyone majoring in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Physics, or Pre-Pharmacy. Exploratory majors with an interest in the natural and mathematical sciences also need to take the test. In addition, anyone preparing for medical, veterinary, dental, or pharmaceutical school needs to take the test.

To take the Calculus Placement Test, please go to this page and follow the detailed instructions for accessing and taking practice tests and the official placement test. You should allow at least one hour to take the exam, and you are strongly encouraged to complete the Calculus Placement test no later than June 15.

Learn What Matters