Charting your course: planning for academics at Calvin 

You’ve sent in your enrollment deposit and you’re excited about coming to Calvin this fall, but you still may be wondering how to register for classes. This guide will help you navigate the academic planning process and get you ready to begin your first semester at Calvin.

On this page you will find information about:

  • Ways to plan for academic advising at your PASSPORT orientation session
  • Course registration for first-year students
  • Answers to common questions about the academic planning process. 
Related pages

Academic Services
Information about advising, registration, AP and transfer credits and support for students with disabilities

PASSPORT Orientation
Information about orientation schedules, placement tests and advising appointments during PASSPORT.


How to prepare for your academic life at Calvin

If you're a checklist sort of person, follow these steps to prepare for your academic life at Calvin.

Academic preparation timeline

Frequently asked questions

Here you can find answers about planning your academic life at Calvin. If you don't see an answer to your question here, contact Dana Hebreard in Academic Services.

When do I register for classes as an incoming student?

You will be registered for classes by the Registrar’s office following your appointment with an academic advisor at PASSPORT orientation. Complete the forms on e-Enroll to register for PASSPORT.

How should I decide which courses to take?

Your PASSPORT advisor is your key resource for your first semester registration. They will provide course information and recommendations for your major/program of interest and for Calvin’s core curriculum.

Use Calvin’s course catalog to review core and major requirements. If you don’t yet have a major, consider taking a class in an area that interests you—many students find a major by taking an initial course in that program.

What is an “advisor” and how do I get one?

An advisoris a professor in your academic program who is responsible for assisting you to choose the right classes and stay on track to graduate. You will meet with this person each semester before you are able to register for courses; your advisor will sign off on your registration account once you’ve met to ensure that you can register at the correct time.

Your advisor for PASSPORT orientation is assigned based on your majors/programs of interest as indicated in your enrollment forms. You will be assigned a more permanent advisor before you register for interim and spring classes in the fall semester. Please notify the Registrar’s officeright away if you change your major so that we can assign you a new advisor.

How do I get into the classes I want?

Make sure to let your advisor know about your majors/programsof interest and planned extracurricular activities. With this information, your advisor will work with the Registrar’s office to create a schedule that meets your needs. Keep in mind that course availability is limited, so you may not be registered for all of the specific courses or course times that you want.

Does attending an earlier PASSPORT orientation session increase my chances of getting into the courses I want?

Attending an earlier PASSPORT session will not increase your chances of being registered for a desired course. Spots are held for those students who attend later sessions so that all students are able to get the classes they need.

What if I don’t like the courses that I am registered for after my Passport orientation session?

If you are concerned that you are accidently repeating a transfer or AP course, that your courses don’t fit your major/program, or if you change your major, notify the Registrar’s office right away. Other preferential schedule changes are subject to course availability. Visit the Registrar’s office to talk about making these kinds of changes to your schedule.

Why do I have to take core curriculum classes?

As a student, you will not only receive exceptional training for your specific field, but you will also gain a greater understanding and appreciation for other facets of God’s world. This ties into Calvin's mission to "equip students to think deeply, to act justly, and ot live wholeheartedly as Christ's agents of renewal in the world." When you graduate, you will be truly ready to pursue your career and calling with a combination of broad knowledge and real skills that employers love in new hires. Learn more about the core curriculum.

Which placement tests do I need to take?

You will receive an email in your new Calvin email inbox with instructions for any placement tests you may need to take before you can be registered for classes. Some of these assessment can be taken online, while others you will take during PASSPORT orientation.

You may need to take placements tests for:

  • Foreign language placement: An online test is available for students who plan to take French, German or Spanish so that your advisor can place you in the correct course level at Calvin. If you plan to take a different language, no placement test is needed.
  • Music theory: Required for music majors and minors.
  • Calculus: Required only for certain majors such as engineering or science.
  • Math and English: If you were granted conditional admission to Calvin, you may need to take one of these placement tests.

Learn more about placement tests at PASSPORT orientation.

What if I'm undecided about my major and/or career?

Don’t be discouraged—many first- and second-year students haven’t decided on a major. At Calvin, we see learning as a journey and process. You’ll have plenty of opportunities through core curriculum courses, academic clubs and activities and internships to explore different fields. In your first semester, try to take core courses in a few areas that interest you. These courses will help you decide if a specific field is for you.

Take core courses in areas that interest you and talk with your professors about potential career options related to their fields. Calvin’s Career Development office is an excellent service that is open to all students. Career counselors there can help you talk through options, connect you to internships and administer strengths tests.

How can I fit all my course requirements and still graduate within four years?

Before Passport, read about core requirements and your major/program requirements in the Calvin Course Catalog. Once you come to PASSPORT orientation, you can access your Academic Evaluation Report (AER) through your Calvin Portal account. This document will serve as your guide when mapping out your core requirements and major/program requirements. With the help of your advisor, you can map out an effective course plan that will guide you until graduation.

It is imperative that you meet with your advisor, keep track of your program requirements and check your AER frequently to graduate in four years.

I have AP or transfer credits. How do I make sure I don’t get registered for courses I’ve already taken?

Please review Calvin’s Advanced Placement policy and familiarize yourself with what course credits may be granted for the AP test that you took. If, when you took your AP test, you requested Calvin as a receiving institution, we will automatically receive your scores. If you did not list Calvin, order your results from College Board at 1-888-CALL-4-AP, Calvin: 1095.

If you took dual-enrollment courses at a college other than Calvin, you will need to request an official transcript from the college of record. Calvin will not grant college course credit based on your high school transcript report. Learn more about transferring credits to Calvin.



Sample schedules for first-year students

The following schedules are intended to give you an idea of the kinds of courses you might be registered for in your fall semester. Your actual schedule may look quite different, depending on your major or program of interest, and things like music or athletic practices, and/or exemptions from certain courses.


SAMPLE SCHEDULE #1 - UNDECIDED STUDENT

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Written Rhetoric 3
Beginning or Intermediate World Language 4
Introductory Psychology: Perspectives on the Self 3
Christian Theology or Biblical Literature 3
Optional Elective: Campus Choir 1
  Total semester hours = 16

SAMPLE SCHEDULE #2 - PRE-MEDICINE

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Written Rhetoric 3
Beginning or Intermediate World Language 4
Biology 4
Chemistry 4
  Total semester hours = 16

SAMPLE SCHEDULE #3 - ENGINEERING

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Written Rhetoric 3
General Chemistry 4
Intro to Engineering Design 2
Graphical Communication Lab 2
Calculus I 4
  Total semester hours = 16

SAMPLE SCHEDULE #4 - SPEECH PATHOLOGY

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Written Rhetoric 3
Introduction to Speech Pathology and Audiology 3
Introductory Psychology: Perspectives on the Self 3
Fundamentals in Technology 1
Beginning or Intermediate World Language 4
  Total semester hours = 15

SAMPLE SCHEDULE #5 - PRE-NURSING

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Written Rhetoric 3
Cell Biology and Genetics for the Health Sciences 4
Introductory Psychology: Perspectives on the Self 3
Chemistry for the Health Sciences 4
Cardio Cross Training 1
  Total semester hours = 16

SAMPLE SCHEDULE #6 - ELEMENTARY EDUCATION

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Written Rhetoric 3
Beginning or Intermediate World Language 4
The Content and Nature of Science for Elementary Teachers 4
Introduction to Education 1
History of the West and the World 4
  Total semester hours = 17

SAMPLE SCHEDULE #7 - OTHER SCIENCE MAJOR - BIOLOGY (B.S.)

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Written Rhetoric 3
Beginning or Intermediate World Language 4
Living World: Concepts and Connections 4
General Chemistry 4
Foundations of Information Technology 1
  Total semester hours = 17

SAMPLE SCHEDULE #8 - OTHER MAJOR: STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION

COURSE SEMESTER HOURS
First Year Seminar 1
Oral Rhetoric 3
Beginning or Intermediate World Language 4
American Politics 3
History of the West and the World 4
Optional Elective: Orchestra 1
  Total semester hours = 16
Planning Tools

Four-year plan template
Download a four-year plan template as a pdf or Excel spreadsheet.

Core curriculum requirements
See Calvin's general core curriculum requirements, or modified requirements for various professional programs.

College catalog
Browse the Calvin College Catalog.

Program requirements
See course requirements for each major, minor and program.