There are many classes to challenge and engage you at Kenyon. As you begin your academic career, it's probably a good idea to take a mix of classes in your first year. Consider taking some classes on topics you know well and would like to explore further. Take other classes on topics that are unfamiliar, topics about which you'd like to know more.

Your faculty advisor will help you select individual courses, but remember, during your first year, almost any class you take will help you meet your diversification requirements. You have four years ahead of you, plenty of time to explore new interests and to delve deeply into the academic areas that will make up your major. The instructions below will help you make the most of your registration and first semester at Kenyon. 

What are your course options?

  • Every department has introductory 100-level courses that are catered towards first-year students.
  • Some departments have first-year seminars just for first-year students to explore specific topics.
  • If you’re drawn towards particular departments or programs already, check out their websites for how and where to get started. Most departments and programs have sections on their websites entitled "for first-year and new students" that are meant to help you with academic exploration and planning.
  • While browsing the semester offerings in the Course Catalog or Plan Ahead, make sure you read the course descriptions to determine whether courses are available to and appropriate for you. You can search courses by a single parameter or a combination of parameters; play around with the options and see what courses you find. Course descriptions will give you a sense of content covered, course format, assessments given, prerequisites, course frequency, time, location, instructor and other applicable information.
  • Some departments have open seats in 200- or 300-level courses that don’t have prerequisites.
  • You can also browse the Schedule of Courses to view basic course information in a more consolidated format (without search functions). Sort the semester’s course list by instructor or meeting time, for example. Or you can focus on enrollment specifications like the number of seats remaining in a class. If you look at information from previous semesters/years, you can get a sense of which courses tend to fill to capacity so that you can prioritize your course selections accordingly.

Let’s walk through the basic degree requirements. Open a section below to learn more.

As articulated by the Office of the Registrar - AP and IB Programs; upon receipt of the official transcript, the Registrar will determine, based on the recommendations of academic departments, the awarding credit based on the college’s Transfer of Credit policy.

Do: Make sure to submit your AP/IB scores directly to Kenyon as soon as possible. Even if you listed them on your Common Application, you need to submit them officially to Kenyon so that your academic record is accurate.

Remember: AP/IB scores can't be applied toward diversification or quantitative reasoning requirements, but they can potentially allow you to take more advanced coursework in subjects you're already familiar with.

Remember: AP/IB scores can't be applied toward the eight (8) semesters to complete your degree. However, credits awarded by the Registrar's Office can be used to cushion unexpected unit shortages (e.g., should you need to drop a course due to weak performance, health issues, or extenuating circumstances). You never know what might happen to you in the future, so submit your scores as soon as possible.

Each course at Kenyon ranges from 0.13 to 0.75 units, given the variation in classroom hours. Most courses are 0.50 unit and one semester long.

Year-long courses are specifically designated with a "Y" in the course number (e.g., BIOL 109Y & 110Y, PSCI 101Y & 102Y). Only "Y" courses are automatically placed on your schedule for the spring semester; all other courses require manual enrollment during course registration.

Foreign language courses are generally 0.75 unit due to the additional classroom hours associated with required AT (apprentice teacher) sessions. Science labs, music lessons, music ensembles, health and sports studies and physical education courses are generally 0.13-0.25 unit.

First-year students generally take 1.75-2.25 units per semester. 2.00 units is the typical load, with an expectation that 4.00 units will be completed in the first year. 

Some students take 1.75 units in the first semester and 2.25 in the second semester. This kind of load can help students ease into academic life, especially when you’ve never taken a college course or a full load of college courses before. This kind of load can also help students who are in-season athletes in the fall, when time is more constrained. However, students vary significantly in terms of time management needs and skills, so you should consider what makes the most sense for you.

Some students take 2.25 units in the first semester and 1.75 in the second semester. This kind of load can help students who struggle in the first semester and would benefit from focusing on fewer courses in the second semester. This kind of load can also help students who are in-season athletes in the spring. Again, time management needs and skills vary by student, so make choices based on what you know about yourself.

What does this mean for your first schedule? 1.75-2.25 units = 3-4 courses each semester.

Recommended first-semester load: Foreign language course (if applicable), course of major interest, courses in areas that look interesting (but you may know nothing about).

Remember: Everything you take in the first year will count towards something, so don't fret. You have eight (8) semesters to complete your degree, so there’s plenty of time.

You need to demonstrate a level of proficiency in a second language equivalent to one full year of introductory college study.

Do you have AP/IB scores? Do you have SAT II scores? Would you pass a placement/proficiency exam?

Do: Make sure to submit your AP/IB/SAT II scores directly to Kenyon. Even if you listed them on your Common Application, you need to submit them officially to Kenyon so that your academic record is accurate.

Do: Take the placement/proficiency exam regardless of whether you plan to take more of your previous language or not — it’s good to be safe (in case you change your mind later)! Plus a poor mark won’t supersede possible credits from your AP/IB/SAT II scores.

Do: Take the placement/proficiency exam especially if you want to pursue advanced language study and/or off-campus study that may require advanced language skills.

Do: Complete this requirement in the first year if possible. Introductory language courses prioritize first-year students. Very few seats are reserved for upper-class students.

You need to earn a minimum of 0.50 unit designated as meeting the quantitative reasoning requirement. These courses are marked “QR” so you can search for them specifically in the Searchable Schedule. AP/IB scores won't satisfy this requirement.

QR courses may focus on the organization, analysis, and implementation of numerical and graphical data; or they may involve learning mathematical ideas, understanding their application to the world, and employing them to solve problems.

Do: Consider QR courses in disciplines and departments of interest, especially since they’re available across social and natural sciences.

There are four divisions of diversification: fine arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. These divisions are meant to give you broad exposure to the curriculum.

Each division consists of several departments:

• Fine arts: Art History and Studio ArtDance, Drama and FilmMusic

• Humanities: ClassicsEnglishModern Languages and LiteraturesPhilosophyReligious Studies

• Natural Sciences: BiologyChemistryMathematicsPhysicsPsychology

• Social sciences: AnthropologyEconomicsHistoryPolitical ScienceSociology

You're expected to take a minimum of 1.00 unit in a single department within each division. Make sure to pay attention to which departments your courses are situated in.

Example: 0.50 unit in art history and 0.50 in studio art will satisfy the fine arts requirement because the two courses are in the same department.

Example: 0.50 unit in art history and 0.50 in music will not satisfy the fine arts requirement because the two courses are not in the same department

Do: Read through course descriptions carefully in the Course Catalog or Plan Ahead. Courses within interdisciplinary departments and programs (e.g., AMST, ENVS, IPHS, NEUR, WGS) will only pair with specific courses or types of courses to satisfy diversification requirements. These pairings should be clearly noted in course descriptions. For additional information, consult with course faculty directly.

There are so many courses! You’re dealing with paralysis of choice. How do you narrow down your options?

Think about what general degree requirements you’d like to work on first. These should be completed in the first 5-6 semesters so that you can focus on major interests toward the end of your time at Kenyon.

Remember: Your first course schedule doesn’t define your whole academic career, though it can certainly inspire you to see how you can get the most out of your Kenyon experience.

Consider what it takes to keep you engaged. Think about courses that will be interesting and challenging. The more engaged you are, the better you'll fare grade-wise. Think about the length/type of courses: Do you prefer shorter lecture courses vs. longer discussion courses? Think about the type of assessments given: Do you prefer exams and quizzes vs. papers and essays? Consider what you're familiar with and not familiar with. What are you good at and not good at?

Remember: You should always have a balance of course types, but you should have even more balance in your first year when you’re trying to figure everything out.

Consider when you’re most functional. Are you a morning bird? Are you a night owl? Do you need breakfast, lunch, and dinner to get through the day? Do you need caffeine/exercise/sleep to sustain you? When will you fit it all in? Think about how to space out your courses over the course of the day and the week.

Remember: Four back-to-back courses on Tuesdays and Thursdays may not be worth the 4-day weekends, especially when exams, papers, and presentations all end up on the same day. Faculty won’t necessarily be flexible, given that you're expected to manage your own workload, so you should structure your schedule with that in mind.

Make sure to have 10-12 courses of interest, and avoid getting attached to a particular schedule. You won’t always get everything you want, so always manage your expectations. You may think you need a course, but ask yourself whether you really do. Find out if a course is offered in the spring (the Schedule of Courses will show you) or in a future semester (ask the professor). Try not to get (too) upset if your carefully laid plans are disrupted — eight (8) semesters is a lot of time to get into courses.

Remember: The courses that are most critical to get into the first year are foreign language and similar sequential courses like those in natural sciences.

Who else should/could you turn to for advice or consultation?

The Academic Advising Office is open over the summer, and the Dean will be available for consultation throughout the summer and particularly during the weeks leading up to Orientation.

While faculty are generally off during the summer, faculty advisors will be available to offer assistance close to and during Orientation, especially if you have questions about sequential courses and/or where you should place yourself.

Remember: Placement/proficiency exams will be offered during Orientation to confirm placement/proficiency, so don’t worry too much, but feel free to consult accordingly.

The Registrar’s Office is open over the summer, and the Registrar's staff will be available for consultation, particularly with regard to receipt of AP/IB scores as well as non-Kenyon transcripts for college coursework elsewhere.

Remember: Make sure to submit official copies of your AP/IB scores and non-Kenyon college transcripts directly to Kenyon. Regardless of whether you expect to need or use them, it's important that you submit them so that your academic record is accurate. To be clear, AP/IB credits can be potentially used for placement/proficiency purposes. Non-Kenyon college coursework can be potentially used for placement/proficiency purposes and/or applied towards diversification requirements.

Others outside and within Kenyon will try to give you advice, including your family, your guidance counselors, your peers, etc. Consider whether they’re reliable sources (e.g., Do they know the curriculum?), whether they’re offering substantive advice (e.g., Do they know the courses and faculty?), and whether they know you and your priorities (e.g., Are they helping you weigh the pros and cons of your choices?). Remember that you'll be the one sitting in your courses.

We’ll do our best to help you make choices that you're comfortable with, but always feel free to take or leave our advice. While you know yourself better than anyone else, remember that you won’t know how college is until you’ve been in it for a while. Try not to fret (too much) if you miscalculate how much you can handle, but take ownership and responsibility for the outcomes of your choices.

Final Thoughts

Make the best decisions you can right now. Think about what makes the most sense for you, but make sure to seek and find balance:

  • In the disciplinary sense — make sure you get exposure to a broad cross-section of divisions and departments, especially in the first year.
  • In the size/type of courses — make sure you get exposure to lectures (relatively large) and seminars (relatively small).
  • In the kind of assessments — make sure you get exposure to courses with exams as well as those with papers.

Think about your most functional and productive time of day. Think about how to space out your courses over the course of the day and the week. 

Know that you can still change your schedule after Orientation. Course registration is only your first attempt to figure out your fall schedule. You don’t necessarily need to commit to everything right now. You’ll have the first seven (7) class days to sit in on courses and see what else might interest you. You’ll have the chance to connect with your faculty advisor and discuss any changes you might need or want to make, especially after your placement exam results come out.

You may be able to reach out to faculty for closed courses, but you should be ready to consider additional course options that you hadn’t originally explored. Make sure to find out whether closed courses will be offered in future semesters. If you’re that interested, you’ll want to find out whether and when you’ll have the chance to take them later.

Remember: Your first course schedule doesn’t define your whole academic career, though it can certainly inspire you to see how you can get the most out of your Kenyon experience. What do you want your Kenyon story to be?