How to Choose an IntroSem

  1. Read the catalog carefully:  Each course description contains information about the topic, prerequisites and units, as well as a biographical profile of the faculty member. If you are interested in taking a course from a specific professor, you may find the index of faculty members particularly useful. You can also check the indexes for seminars by participating departments and programs or course title. 

  2. Be open to possibility: Allow yourself to imagine the excitement in subjects that may seem far afield from what you initially expected to pursue.  As a first- or second-year student, you have the liberty to be open to the entire spectrum of intellectual pursuits at Stanford. This is the best path toward defining your own personal and particular passions and to designing your education. This includes both course work and activities (such as research) that will best enable you to explore these passions. You’ll have the most satisfying education and the most to contribute if you seek out what compels you personally and not limit yourself with preconceptions.
  3. Use the Course Selection Worksheet (PDF): Note any seminars that catch your interest. Refer to that list to brainstorm about what seminars you might want to take in any given quarter. It can also inform you more generally about what directions seem most appealing to you at this point in your academic career. Look for themes that might suggest areas you'd like to explore in your time at Stanford. Take note of which departments are on your list and which faculty. Share this list with your academic advisor and a family member or a friend. They may be able to help you see patterns and suggest directions for you to explore.
  4. Discuss your choices with your advisor: Seek out advice about how particular course options might help you refine your future directions; which faculty might be particularly good intellectual mentors for you; and if it makes sense to fill a requirement with an IntroSem.
  5. Confirm that the course fits your schedule: Day, time and location are arranged by the enrolling department and are made available before each quarter begins. The most current day, time and location information will be available in Axess. This information should be confirmed before applying to a class to ensure it continues to fit your schedule.
  6. Be persistent: Although some of the seminars are oversubscribed each quarter, many others still have available space at the beginning of the term. You will find many fascinating instructors and topics by browsing the list of space-available courses. You can also look in the Stanford Bulletin for related classes in the same department or with the same instructor. Lastly, take the initiative to go to the faculty member's office hours to discuss ways of pursuing your common interests.

See Also