What courses should you take your first semester?


Students enter the Liberal Studies program at different stages of their degrees so there is no single answer to this question.  In some cases, students enter Liberal Studies late in their undergraduate experience so every course must be carefully selected.  If this is you, then the welcome email you received should have included very specific recommendations for your first semester.  If not, then you have a more flexibility to create a schedule.  We can provide some guidance but the actual classes are ultimately your decision.

  • Unless you’ve already completed LIS 301, it should be on your first-semester schedule.
  • Review your welcome email to make sure you understand your admission status.  That email should have told you how many lower-division (100- and 200-level) credits hours we’ve applied to your degree.  You may include as many as 72 lower-division credit hours in your degree so pay attention to this limit as you consider options.
  • If your welcome email noted General Education deficiency, it would be a good idea to consider these options for your first semester.
  • As you’ve read, you need a series of ECCE courses so they too are a good option for your first semester.
  • If you select upper-division General Education or ECCE courses, consider how they fit into the Boyer categories.  If you are still looking for additional courses, then look for courses that address Boyer categories you haven’t already addressed.


It is fairly common for students to enter the Liberal Studies program without having completed a General Education math course.

If you are a campus-based major, you should take the math placement test as soon as possible and plan to include math on your first-semester schedule.  While everyone is different, the reason that many LIS majors have not yet completed General Education math is because they have been avoiding it, which often means that they are uncomfortable with math, which often means that they will need developmental math courses before they can enroll in a GenEd math course.   If you need developmental math courses, you should start this path immediately.

If you are an online major, the same ideas apply, with some differences.  You can absolutely take an online GenEd math course with UIS but UIS, like many schools, does not offer developmental math courses in an online format.  Students who need these courses will need to take them at a local community college.  If you will need developmental math courses you should contact your local community college to discuss math placement as soon as possible.

 General Advice for Students Who Need Math

  • If you feel that you are bad at math, you may need to reframe your perspective.  If you aren’t able to factor a polynomial at this time, then it is more likely that you don’t know how to factor a polynomial than it is that you’re bad at factoring polynomials.  Why burden yourself with the belief that you at bad at something you haven’t learned yet?  This could prove to be a major disadvantage as you start the challenging path to completing a GenEd math course.
  •  It is easier to avoid frustration than it is to engage the things that frustrate you.  It makes sense to think, “I’ll take math next semester,” but there is always a next semester and there is a danger that you’ll continue kicking math down the road until you reach the end of the road – your entire degree completed except for math.  Imagine that you wait until the end of your degree to start thinking about math.  You may end up taking math courses for another 3 or 4 semesters when you could have incorporated those math courses into your past schedules.  Or, worse, you may just give up and never complete your degree.
  • Developmental math courses are not a racket schools use to make more money or a waste of time.  Generally speaking, if a high-school student took four years of math ending with precalculus,  the student should be ready to take a GenEd math course when he or she enters college.  If you did not take these years of math or if it has been many years since you took them, then it is likely you need developmental math courses.  Developmental math courses cover the high school material you either never learned or forgot.