By Danielle Sandahl
It feels like you’ve barely started first semester when it’s suddenly time to register for the next. To many college students, trying to pick classes can be overwhelming and stressful – especially if you’re having a tough time making up your mind with so many options! But registering for classes doesn’t have to end in a panic attack.
The following checklist will help you determine which classes are best to take based on your personal interests and dregree requirements:
1. Make a list of all the classes you are interested in, regardless of what is necessary for a major or graduation.
2. Take a look at the graduation requirements for your major (and minor, if you have one).
3. Double check with your academic advisor or class dean to ensure you’re not missing anything in your requirements.
Aside from the official checkpoint on your academic progress, you should talk to your advisor before registration for a few other reasons. Sometimes if your heart is set on a class that has a pre-requisite your advisor maybe able to help you out such as giving you priority registion for the class you need to take or talking to the professor about letting you register anyway.
4. Go back to your list of desired classes and order them by interest.
Place the classes you’re most interested in taking at the top of the list and the ones that look cool but you aren’t dying to take near the bottom.
5. Compare this list to your degree requirements.
If the classes you really want to take match up with what you need to take then you’re in great shape! If not, you may have to sacrifice one or two of those top-of-list classes to make sure you graduate on time.
6. Now that you have a list of cool classes (and know you’re on track to graduate), it’s time to look more closely at how you want your schedule to work out.
You likely have a list of more than the 4-5 classes you intend to take and this step is where you filter out which ones will make the most sense to take for this coming semester.
It’s important to consider your extracurricular activities: will you want to get an internship? Is there a club you’d like to try but just don’t have time for right now? By manipulating your class schedule around these time-restricted activities, you will make sure that you get the most out of your semester and enjoy yourself.
7. Do your homework on professors.
Each professor has their own distinct teaching style, grading methods and personality. Using a website like ratemyprofessors.com can be really beneficial but you can’t trust those ratings because often times people are motivated to write something based on a bad experience they’ve had. Your school may have a system that publishes data collected from end-of-semester surveys and this information is can be very helpful because it is required from every student.
If you’re unsure if this exists, ask upperclassmen or academic services about it. Feel free to ask those upperclassmen about their favorite professors or recommendations as well, they can help you learn about awesome classes you may not have known existed.
NOTE: Often, at smaller colleges you won’t have much choice between professors for a specific class and this may cause you to reconsider taking a class. If this happens, no need to worry. Just go back to your original list and see if any of your other options fill the need, then continue with your new choices.
“Alright, I’ve got my list of classes and I’m ready to register! Now what?”
At this point you should have narrowed down your list to the classes you will actually register for! Review the registration process a few days before your registration date to ensure you understand it and, if it’s online, that your browser is compatible. Keep your master list of classes you’re interested in for future reference and add to it or change it as you learn more about your school and its offerings.
Don’t forget to look into alternative options to earn credits.
If you’re finding it difficult to fulfill requirements or have run out of classes that interest you on your campus there a number of options available to you. Many colleges, especially smaller ones, maintain partnerships with other schools where you can take a class at the other school for no additional tuition cost. If you choose this option, be sure to check how the exam and vacation schedules match up to your school’s because they may be different.
You can also elect to take summer classes at your school, online, or at a different college – just check that the credits will transfer before you enroll at a different school! If you have enough credits transferred in, as long as you have finished your requirements, you may be eligible to graduate early.