Balancing classes, a social life, sleep, and your family can be hard enough, but adding course selection to the mix once a semester can be enough stress to push you into a full on meltdown. This bi-annual nightmare always seems to come out of nowhere and can become a huge stressor if you’re not prepared. From the required list of courses, you need to pick 12 to 18 credits that have good teachers, fit in your schedule, and fulfill some sort of course requirement, plus some alternatives in case you don’t get in.
Your course selections will dictate whether or not you graduate on time and fulfill your degree requirements, so it’s best not to take this responsibility too lightly. Here are some tips to make course selection a little easier next semester, ensuring that you get the courses you need to graduate on time.
1. Befriend your advisor.
Your advisor can make or break your scheduling experience. They can tell you what classes apply for what requirements and can help you find substitute classes. Sometimes- and this is huge- they can even get you into classes that are already full. The worst thing you can do is to not take the time to meet with your advisor, try to guess at what applies to your major, and end up wasting money on classes you didn’t need to take. Make sure to schedule a meeting with your advisor a few weeks in advance and get their suggestions on what classes to take, and try to talk to other students who have the same advisor.
In some unfortunate cases, faculty advisors really do not understand the process and may misguide their students. If this is the word on the street, find out if your school has a Center for Student Success or something along those lines, as the expert members of these centers are usually a great substitute poor faculty advisors. Alternatively, you can speak with the head of your department or Registration and Records about getting a new faculty advisor.
2. Figure out your schedule early.
Making a preliminary schedule ahead of time will save you a lot of headache later, especially if you have sports, a job, or clubs to work around. Have an extra hour on a Saturday afternoon? Go through and pick out several ideal classes that fulfill your requirements and mesh well with your extracurricular schedule. You’ll thank yourself later.
3. Sign up on time.
Depending on your school, you will either schedule online or in-person with your advisor. If you are to schedule online, know exactly when registration opens, and start then. Even if you have to ask a professor to step out of class for a few moments to find a computer, it’s always best to sign up as soon as possible.
There is no worse feeling than the class you want filling up because you were ten minutes late. The night before, check which classes are closest to full, and make them a priority for scheduling in the morning. If your American literature class only has four seats left and your journalism class has 10, sign up for American literature first. Rank all of your classes this way, and you’ll be on you way to a successful schedule!
If you have to register with your advisor, know when you can begin meeting with them, and try to get an early meeting. Be ready with the classes you want to take and with any questions you might have.
4. Research your professors.
There are many great websites (like this one) where students can grade their professors, and these are definitely worth checking out. Also, keep in mind what your friends have to say about their professors. That history professor who rambles for 90 minutes about unrelated topics but still gives difficult exams? Maybe you shouldn’t sign up for his class.
Nothing ruins a semester like 17 consecutive weeks of classes with the most boring professor on campus. And the opposite scenario is also true: There’s nothing like a talented professor to keep you motivated to actually get out of bed for class in the morning!
5. Pick classes you’re interested in.
Everyone has to take classes they don’t enjoy sometimes, but most colleges and universities can be flexible in their requirements. Find subjects and classes that interest you, and talk to your advisor and see if they can fulfill any requirements. Taking an extra class in something you want to learn about can boost your GPA and act as an enjoyable block of personal learning time during the week.
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help turn your scheduling nightmare into a dream. Good luck!