What are Core Classes?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
English literature core classes might include the Romantic poets, such as Lord Byron.
English literature core classes might include the Romantic poets, such as Lord Byron.

Core classes are classes in math, English, natural science, and social science that make up the bulk of most academic curricula, especially in high school and university-level programs. In addition to these classes, students generally are required to take classes in subjects such as the arts and foreign languages. Depending on the academic institution, there may also be physical education classes required as well.

Core math classes usually include geometry.
Core math classes usually include geometry.

Although it is often requires for students to take classes in the core subjects, they often have some choice in which classes they take within those subjects. For example, under the umbrella of English are classes in composition, speech, and sometimes even creative writing. Furthermore, the literature classes offered within an English department usually vary quite a bit from semester to semester. Therefore, a student might be able to choose from classes in Victorian literature, the Romantic poets, the 20th-century novel, and West Indian literature one semester while being able to choose between courses in Shakespeare's sonnets, feminist literature, post-colonial literature, and Asian literature the next. Sometimes these choices are only available after completing a prerequisite core class such as freshman composition.

Core classes are the bulk of the educational curriculum, including coursework in math, English, natural and social sciences.
Core classes are the bulk of the educational curriculum, including coursework in math, English, natural and social sciences.

There may be a bit less variety in core classes that fall under the umbrella of math, natural science, and social science, but there are usually still some options from which students can choose. Much like with English core classes, the elective classes in these fields are often available only after completing prerequisite courses, which are often completed in the first year or the first two years of the academic program. Math core classes usually include geometry, algebra, statistics, trigonometry, and calculus. Core classes in the natural sciences often include physics, biology, chemistry, and earth science. History, sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics, geography, and political science are often clustered under the umbrella of the natural sciences.

Most classes completed in middle and high school are core requirements for graduation.
Most classes completed in middle and high school are core requirements for graduation.

Depending on one's academic focus or major, more classes may be taken in one core field than the other. For example, a student hoping to complete a major in psychology will likely take far more classes in the social sciences than a student hoping to complete a major in physics. Furthermore, some students will load up on core classes in one particular field in preparation for a second degree that they hope to complete after finishing the requirements for the present one. Students hoping to go on to become doctors, for example, will take many core classes in the natural sciences such as biology and anatomy.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

anon939427

Make the decision you want to make. Only you can make your future bright.

GenevaMech

@framemaker- My advice to you is to ignore your friend’s advice. You are making a large investment in your future so the wisest decision is to challenge yourself and make the best of your investment.

Like you, I was undecided for my first year of school. When choosing a course, I would try to decide if it was the best course for my money, if it was something that I was interested in, and if it was something that would help me build transferable skills. I agree with aplenty's point that choosing the more difficult courses at a school will better prepare you for when you do choose a major.

aplenty

@Framemaker- I found out that my core classes were more important to forming a solid curriculum than I thought. Many of my core classes became prerequisites for classes within my major. I took classes in areas like science and mathematics that were in the exploratory level that did not end up meeting those prerequisites. I graduated a semester behind schedule because I had to re-take my sciences. The science and mathematics courses I had taken were not rigorous enough for the related upper division classes I would take in my final years.

I would recommend that you discuss your options with an adviser and take courses that are more challenging than other courses in the same subject area. It can be tough to decide what you want to do for a career, but by taking more challenging course, you will not need to make up for as many deficiencies when you do come to a decision. Good luck to you as you work towards your degree...whatever it may be.

FrameMaker

I am choosing my first set of college classes as an undeclared first year student. How important are my core classes? I mean, how much thought should I put into choosing my core classes? I was thinking that I should choose a variety of classes for my first year since I do not know what I want to study. My friend told me that core classes do not matter though, so I should choose easy classes that I will get an A in.

Does anyone who has actually graduated from college have any opinions on the importance of core classes? I would love to start my college career with straight A's, but I do not know if choosing easy core classes will hinder me in the long term.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • English literature core classes might include the Romantic poets, such as Lord Byron.
      English literature core classes might include the Romantic poets, such as Lord Byron.
    • Core math classes usually include geometry.
      Core math classes usually include geometry.
    • Core classes are the bulk of the educational curriculum, including coursework in math, English, natural and social sciences.
      Core classes are the bulk of the educational curriculum, including coursework in math, English, natural and social sciences.
    • Most classes completed in middle and high school are core requirements for graduation.
      Most classes completed in middle and high school are core requirements for graduation.
    • Algebra and calculus are common core classes.
      Algebra and calculus are common core classes.
    • Physical education classes are often a part of the core curriculum in elementary and middle schools.
      Physical education classes are often a part of the core curriculum in elementary and middle schools.