Why are there Mandatory Classes in College?

When you enroll in college, you will discover that there are various courses you are required to fulfill before you can graduate.

  • These course requirements allow you to develop your knowledge beyond the subject that interests you.
  • Some of these mandatory college courses include the core classes, such as math, science and history, and you may be required to take public speaking, freshman seminar and of course the mandatory prerequisites for your major.

Core Classes

The core curriculum contains the classes you need to take as an undergraduate, regardless of your major.

  • Examples of core classes include math, science, foreign language, writing, history and psychology.
  • Some colleges and universities may allow students to opt out of certain core classes, such as a foreign language, if they have already earned Advanced Placement or dual credit for that class in high school.

Expect for these to take up most of the credit hours in your week during your first and second semester. You may be lucky enough to have a couple electives, but mostly you will be getting core classes out of the way.


A prerequisite is a class you need to take before you can advance to a higher-level course within that discipline.

  • For example, an incoming college freshman wanting to study nursing must first complete a basic human anatomy course before enrolling in a pathophysiology course.
  • Similarly, students studying English must fulfill a basic writing composition course before enrolling in an advanced research writing class.

Your college academic advisor will be able to help you keep on track and enrolled in the correct classes so that you may advance in a timely manner.

Seminar & Trainings

Most colleges and universities require students to enroll in at least one freshman seminar course, irrespective of your major.

  • Many seminars are semester-long credited courses that familiarize new students with college basics, such as how to construct research papers, improve study strategies, navigate online campus resources and acquire time management skills.
  • For example, at Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, students are required to complete two freshman seminars during their first year of college, which are intended to enhance both critical thinking and writing skills.

Along the same lines, some colleges require freshman to take certain trainings at the beginning of the school year, or before stepping on campus.

  • Examples of these trainings are sexual assault education trainings, racial diversity and equity trainings, and general citizenship trainings for the community you are now a part of.

Writing Intensive Courses

Certain colleges or majors may require you to enroll in a writing intensive course in your first year of college as well.

  • This is a course that focuses on a certain subject or topic, but the majority of your homework is writing and essay based.
  • The courses allow a student to develop their formal writing skills and learn about writing for specific content matter.

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