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Why Taking Courses in the Right Order Matters

Why Taking Courses in the Right Order Matters


course-order-importanceBy Erin Kelley-Bannister
Academic Advisor at American Public University

One of the first bits of information you receive from the university is the course progression for your program. Taking courses in the recommended order helps you build a strong academic foundation, so you progress through your program with the academic knowledge you need to succeed in your classes.

Why Foundations of Online Learning Should Be Your First Course

The reason COLL100 (Foundations of Online Learning) is recommended first is because it provides necessary information about how to interact and succeed in our online environment. You’re introduced to the classroom, library, and other basic university information that you’ll need to know as a university student.

General Education Courses Prepare You for the Challenge of Upper-Level Courses

The first general education course our advisors recommend is ENGL101 — Efficiency in Writing. This course helps you establish solid writing habits early; good writing is an essential element for future success in your classes. In addition, ENGL101 is a prerequisite course for many other writing-intensive courses.

There is no recommended course progression for the remaining General Education courses, but it is usually a good rule for you to pair strong subject areas with weak ones. For instance, if you love writing but are not a huge fan of mathematics, taking a History course along with a Mathematics course would be a good choice.

Another great way to select and schedule general education classes is to go to the archived syllabi in your program’s course requirements (find these in your course catalog). While a course’s archived syllabus will not show you the current course requirements, it provides some insight on course expectations. These archived syllabi are great resources as you register for courses in the remainder of your academic program.

Some Upper-Level Courses Can Be Taken in Order — or Not

Core courses are presented on your academic plan in the order that you should complete them. However, concentration and/or major courses often allow you to choose from a list of courses and therefore do not usually have a recommended progression. Pair these concentration/major courses with your core courses or take them after you finish your core courses.

Ask Us For Advice

At APUS, we want you to have a successful academic experience. If you have questions about your course progression or need more information, consult your academic advisor.

About the Author

Erin Kelley-Bannister has worked at APUS for five years as an Academic Advisor for the Schools of Arts and Humanities and Education. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and enjoys helping students as they work on their college education.



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At American Public University, students are priority one. We are committed to providing quality education, superior student resources, and affordable tuition. In fact, while post-secondary tuition has risen sharply nationwide, the university continues to offer affordable tuition without sacrificing academic quality.

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