What is it you want to go to school for? Which degree are you seeking, in what field? At what level are you looking to achieve? Associates, Bachelors, Masters?
No matter how you answered those questions, there are a lot of core courses, or general education courses, that you are going to have to take. Once you get that Associates degree (traditionally a two-year degree) then the classes become more specialized depending on what major you have selected. But those first two years there are a lot of common courses that everyone has to take.
Bear in mind, there are variations to this, depending on what state you live in and what school you attend. Many on-line programs have streamlined versions of these core classes, also in other formats, but no matter where you go you will have to take many of these classes.
English 101 and English 102 – General English classes cover a lot of areas, and lead to a lot of different related electives. In its most basic form, these classes cover writing, debate, speech, and composition, as well as some literature analysis.
College Algebra – A majority of students will need to take College Algebra, but students at other levels will still have math requirement to fulfill. Students who underperform in math may need to start with a General Math class, and more advanced students may end up taking statistics, trigonometry, pre-calculus, or calculus. Regardless, there will be math classes required.
Political Science—This is a social science concerned with the study of different forms of government, the principles and history of politics, and the study of the state. Also called Social Studies, this is a course that blends in with several other similar courses, including economics, sociology, and even psychology.
Economics – another social science, this one focuses on understanding how different forms of economies work, including the production and distribution of goods and services, and how that distribution affects a group of people or populace. This is not a math-based course, but rather analyzes the trends the historical precedents. Microeconomics will focus on individuals and markets, while Macroeconomics focuses on entire countries and their larger economic issues.
2 Science Classes – Most schools have a wide array of first and second year courses available in the field of science, and the students have some degree of control over what they take. Courses offered often include geology, physics, chemistry, biology, environmental or earth science, oceanography, and astronomy. Most schools required at least one of the science classes to have a laboratory component.
1 or 2 History Classes – Usually the basic history courses will be a World History 101 or a United States History 101, with some minor variation. In the past few years focus on history has been phased out in pursuit of a focus on technology and skill development.
Electives and Humanities – Part of fulfilling the general education requirement involves picking several electives, which can include any of the coursework listed here, and more specific courses.