When attending almost any college, you are required to complete a group of classes that the school has deemed important for a solid education. These classes make up what is called the core curriculum, and may differ slightly based on the school you are attending. In general, students are required to know the basics about mathematics, science and fine arts.
English and Literature
Almost all colleges require that students take at least one course in English and literature, although some require two or more. Schools that require English as a core class typically expound upon the basics that students should have learned in high school, such as writing and grammar skills. Some colleges give the student a choice to take a literature class in lieu of basic English. This allows the student to study literary works from other cultures, such as those from Eastern, Slavic or Germanic territories.
Often, new college students must choose from a list of fine-arts electives, such as music appreciation or art. These classes may also be grouped into a humanities category, depending on the college. The student may be able to take an introductory class to learn a language such as Spanish or French. Other possible choices include philosophy or a survey course on western or world civilization. These classes are often intended to guide the student toward finding her main interests in school. They can be helpful if the student is unsure of her major upon arriving at college.
History and Politics
Students will usually need to take a few classes in various historical and political subjects. Many schools focus on the history of the United States, while others will allow the student to study history from his own state, or even another culture. United States politics is also often covered, as is a course about the student’s local and state government. These courses help the student better understand the world in which he lives — from the local to the worldwide level.
Science and Math
Most colleges require students to take at least two science courses, including a separate laboratory component for each course. Students are often allowed to choose from biology, chemistry, physics or geology. Some colleges offer an overview science course, which surveys several branches of science.
At least one math class is typically required. Most colleges give the incoming student an aptitude test to determine her mathematical skill level. This is used to place the student in the most appropriate math class. Students may be placed in basic algebra, trigonometry, precalculus or calculus.
Schools often have their own courses that they have deemed necessary for students to take. For example, some colleges require students to take a physical-education or health class. This may even be a requirement of the state or county in which the student lives. Other schools require the student to enroll in a computer-literacy course. Many private universities require students to take several courses in theology.