Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Prerequisites: Get a head start on college today

What are Prerequisites? 

These are the "stepping stones" every major forces you to take before you can actually get around to taking courses you'll use. For engineers these are classes like the chem series, mathematics, that one english course everyone has to take, etc.

What most people don't realize when first applying to colleges or transferring is what a benefit it is to have most of them finished before entering your university of choice.

Between community college courses and AP tests I got to knock out a whole two years worth of credits when I first came to Davis and therefore entered as a "junior" in credits. In addition I had most of my engineering prereq's done and therefore got to jump straight into courses that interested me without having my GPA murdered by the 21and 22 series (the math courses up to Differentials here at Davis required for engineering).

So for you high school students or even students planning on transferring, try to get these out of the way ahead of time. High schoolers-take AP tests. You don't need the class to take them, there are plenty of books out there to help. I'm not suggesting you sign up for them all and take them like M &M's; take the ones you feel confident that you will score high in because ultimately the scores will determine if it will be accepted as course credit or not.

For transfer or high school students community college classes are your friends. They will generally be less difficult than courses you take at the university and you have an entire semester to learn them. Take advantage of this. Simply through taking a course on top of high school every few semesters, I knocked out all but 2 class of my GE and then some. 

So get those prereq's knocked out as soon as you can. You'll appreciate it when you actually get to do engineering when you get to university rather than sitting in GE's and intro courses your first two years.


Nassim Riazi

Note: Make sure to double check with the community colleges transfer center to make sure that the courses you are taking will transfer. or just check

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Images


  1. I should note that many schools give you "credit" for AP tests, but do not allow you to skip the course. This, in my personal opinion, is good, because it allows you to become acclimated to the college workload and challenge. Not all AP courses are approached the same way, and for some students, they only know enough to pass the test.

    When I entered college, I was ultimately MAD that I wasn't able to pass out of college calculus. Looking back, I'm VERY GLAD that I was required to take the series. It greatly strengthened my math and study skills, and you'll need good grades to get accepted into graduate school (which you shouldn't dismiss at the beginning of your college career).

    However, I agree with Nassim: Community college classes are a good way to "opt out" of certain courses.

  2. @serena Thank you! i didn't really clarify that. It depends on your test scores too. For example some will give you credit for a three but won't allow you to skip the course without a 4 or 5. Or some may not give you credit at all. It depends on where you apply.

  3. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.