Choosing First-Year Courses

Summer 2022

Welcome to Williams! It is time to think about courses for the fall semester.


A liberal arts education involves expanding your breadth of knowledge. Your course choices should reflect your current interests and background, but you should not be afraid to try courses in areas that are totally new to you. The curriculum offers a diverse array of subjects, many of which are not available in most high schools. Your first two years, in particular, should be times when you experiment, try new fields, and expose yourself to a wide range of disciplines. 

A good first step is reviewing the 2022-2023 course catalog. If that is overwhelming, the Departments and Program Descriptions link could help you get started choosing classes in whichever department interests you. There you will also find links to department and program websites. Feel free to contact your first-year advisor any time you have questions.

Key Dates

Please note the following registration dates in your calendar:

  • Pre-registration is August 8 – 12.
  • Registration is August 22 – 26.
  • Drop/Add is September 6 – September 16.

Keep in mind — pre-registration is a request for the classes you would like to take.  Your course schedule may change as over-enrolled courses and upper-class student selections merge into final rosters. You will have the opportunity to review and change your course schedules during the registration period in August, and you will be able to talk with your advisor about course substitutions. 


Here are a few tips to help you navigate course selection:

  • Consider classes outside of your comfort zone. A liberal arts education is about stretching your knowledge and experiencing new things. Williams has many resources to help all students, so feel free to experiment with your class schedule. You should know that first-year students may take no more than 1 course with the same prefix, nor more than 2 in the same department, in a semester (1 SOC and 1 ANTH is OK, but 2 SOC is not).
  • Read course descriptions carefully. You should make sure that you fulfill the prerequisites of a course before you sign up.
  • Try to pick courses with varied forms of course evaluations. For example, avoid having too many final papers, which could increase your course load toward the end of the semester.
  • Try to mix up the size of your courses.  If you are taking some large lecture classes, consider taking some small seminars as well.
  • Plan with your spring semester in mind. Many classes offered during the fall semester are not offered in the spring semester, and vice versa. Make sure you are taking prerequisite courses required for a class you want to take in the spring. 
  • Preparation for the Health Professions. There is no pre-med or pre-health major at Williams. However, if you are considering medical school after Williams, you will need to complete the courses required by professional schools. The Health Professions Office within the Office of Career Counseling serves all students with an interest in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, public health and any allied health field.

That is it for now. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your advisor at any time.

Best wishes for a wonderful summer!

Danielle Ramdath
Senior Associate Dean of Academic Engagement

Christina F. Walsh
Associate Dean of Students / Dean of First Year Students