Well, it’s that time of year-Registration Time! If you’re a freshman who gets to register early, I’m just a tad jealous. It’s one those Honors Program perks I’ll miss out on as a rising junior.
If you’re like me, you’ve found dozens of courses you’d like to take and are struggling to whittle your list of possibilities down to a reasonable number. Maybe you’re struggling to choose between two courses that meet at the same time slot. At any rate, I’m hoping I can offer a little bit of wisdom and help (I was mistaken for being 21 today, so anything’s possible).
1) Take classes you enjoy
This may seem like a relatively obvious concept, but you might be surprised at how many people don’t take this into consideration. Now, it’s not always possible to make every class your favorite…not to mention those annoying GCRs and major/minor requirements. Still, take the time to look over your schedule to see if you can actually get excited about the courses you’ll be taking. If not…well, studying or reading for a class you dislike can become such as chore that the work just doesn’t get done. Or maybe you finish the work just fine but have to drag your resentment-filled self to class every day. Both scenarios should be avoided if at all possible. I’ve certainly passed up the chance to have perfect/beautiful/no Friday schedules in order to take classes I thought I would really enjoy. If your dream is to take Advanced Spanish Grammar, don’t pass on the course just because it’s offered on a Friday afternoon.
This brings me to my next blurb of an idea…
2) Be realistic about time slots
When I was registering for classes last spring, I decided to try and “stack” my classes for the coming semester to leave me more time for work or an internship. I had four classes in a row with an hour-long break between the fifth class. When my Arts and Cultures class met for a plenary session in the evening, that added up to six classes in one day. Not exactly fun. I finished the semester just fine and had great grades, but my Tuesdays and Thursdays were sometimes less than fun and I often spent my last class just waiting for the day to be over.
Now, maybe you’re fine with all of that and don’t mind carting around your lunch on days when you have class from 9:30 to 6. You may have a truly incredible internship or job that’s worth the rest of the week. But for those of us who want to make sure we can work AND take classes we enjoy at reasonable times, it’s better to schedule your work around your classes than to schedule in classes around work hours. That doesn’t mean you completely ignore time slots when choosing classes (though, let’s be realistic-no one ever ignores time slots. Everyone I know who has an 8 am class is well aware of when the class starts), but don’t pass up courses because you’re anxious about fitting in 20 hours a week at your internship or trying to avoid waking up before noon.
3) Watch your four-year plan
I’m of the strong opinion that four-year plans are very worthwhile, even if you’re still a freshman trying to decide between majoring in political science or biology. Why? Four-year plans give you an idea about the time commitments and course requirements that stand between you and graduation. It’s generally a good idea to sit yourself down and see what courses you’ll need to take to get your diploma every once in a while, even if you don’t change your major. You don’t want to be the student who forgets the CCAS Fine Arts requirement or overlooks that one last course you needed for your Conflict and Security concentration in the Elliott School.
It’s also a good idea to be realistic about certain options. If you’ve completed three semesters with no hard sciences, it may not be feasible to suddenly switch to a chemistry major and still graduate on time. You may not be able to double major and double minor and still take electives (or sleep).
I hope my ramblings give you at least a moment’s thought. Don’t feel obligated to follow my advice if something else works better for you. After all, I’m still trying to figure out my classes for next semester too.
P.S. Make sure you get any holds on your account removed now so they don’t prevent you from registering. You don’t want to drag yourself out of bed to register at 6:55 AM and find that out then.