Registering for Classes
Registering for classes can be a super nerve-racking and is a stressful time for everyone in college, no matter how often you have done it. Registration is when every student at the university picks and signs up for classes for the next semester. What you choose will heavily affect your life for the next several months. So, the pressure is on to get into needed classes with reasonable time slots and good professors. Otherwise you are doomed to experience a not-so-fun 15 weeks of classes you’d rather not sit through. But don’t worry! There are a few things that can help make this oh-so-important process go as smoothly as possible.
The first thing I would do, especially if you are a freshman, have just changed majors, or are a transfer student, is meet your advisor! Believe me, they are lifesavers. The next thing to do is find out when registration actually begins. Go ahead and check on that within the first week of school when you are getting organized for the new semester. It can be found on your school’s academic calendar; I suggest doing this early so you can be prepared by the time it rolls around. Go ahead and put a note in your planner at the beginning of each semester to check the registration materials several weeks before the registration period begins. This will be an important reminder during a busy semester.
Then when registration is only four or five weeks away, email your advisor and find out if there will be any early advising sessions available and, if so, when they begin. Early advising will give you more time to look at classes and talk with your advisor about your options for the next semester. The difference between doing this and attending normal advising sessions is that sessions during the standard “advising period” usually only last about 30 minutes. If you are still confused or unsure about classes, you want to allow yourself more time to talk with your advisor. So, think ahead and go in early. Also, make sure you pick a time to meet that works with your schedule and then don’t miss your appointment! The advising period is a very busy time for your advisor, so the earlier you can get in the better. Your advisor’s schedule will fill up extremely fast.
During your advising meeting you will pick a tentative class schedule, and talk about the classes you need to be taking in order to graduate in your desired major. Advisors can also give you their professional opinion on when exactly you should take certain courses depending on their difficulty. Your advisor will possibly put it all on a piece of paper for you. Do not lose this because it will have a lot of important information on it, as well as the date and time for when you can start registering for classes. After your advisor helps you figure out the classes you should take, check your school’s course catalog and look up these classes to start creating possible weekly schedules. Your school’s registration system will tell you what’s being offered the next semester, who is teaching the classes, and when and where the classes will be held. I like to write it all down on a piece of paper in a kind of “week at-a-glance.” That way I can visually see how my potential classes will look on a weekly schedule if I decide to sign up for them.
I would also suggest that you take the time to do some research on the professors of each class you are interested in. Even a topic you love can become a chore if you and the professor are not a good fit. Ratemyprofessor.com is just one of many sites that allow you to look at reviews from fellow students. But take their critiques with a grain of salt; it’s not always the teacher’s fault for a student getting a bad grade. Sometimes the only people who provide information to those sites are disgruntled students who may have been the cause of their own challenges in a course. Then once you’ve scouted all the class you are interested in taking, write down in one place everything you will need to register for each class so that you will have it handy when registering.
A lot of campuses use an on-line registration process. If this is the case, when your registration day finally arrives, make sure you are somewhere that has a good Internet connection and anticipate your schools website to run unusually slow. Remember you are just one of probably five hundred to a thousand students logging on at the same time. Don’t forget to have that paper close at hand with the information you collected on all the courses you are interested in. It is also always good to have some back up courses picked out just in case you do not get into your first choice classes.
When your registration time rolls around, summit your first choices. If you do not get the classes you need right away, don’t panic. It typically will work out if you are persistent. You can meet with your advisor again to pick other classes, get on a waiting list for the classes you really want that are already full, and/or just watch the class to see if spots open up. A lot of times other students decide they don’t want to take a certain class which they had originally signed up for and drop them, or (not that this is a good thing) get dropped from classes for financial or academic reasons. So keep calm, be as proactive as you can when preparing to register, and things tend to work out.