Options Solutions Guest Student Blogger – Ugh, Course Selection
You’ve picked your school, accepted your admissions offer and submitted your final grade 12 marks. Before you head off on your summer vacation and forget about school for a few months, there’s one final thing that needs to be addressed: course selection. Although it can be time consuming, confusing and frustrating, course selection is worth spending extra time on to get right the first time through.
First, review the requirements for your degree, write them down and make sure you fully understand them. It’s easy to overlook specific requirements. In first year, it took me an hour to read through the electives I needed for a BFA over a BA. Doing so however, has made my life much easier now. Half of my friends didn’t pay attention to the electives needed for a BFA, and now have to pay for another year of tuition to complete the correct courses JUST because they were unorganized. Getting it right from the beginning can save you time, money and unnecessary headache.
Once you understand your requirements, it doesn’t hurt to contact an independent academic advisor (Melinda or Edwin!) to give you the stamp of approval, as well as your university advisor. After an advisor signs off on your course selection, check your registration status, which will tell you the exact date and time your registration opens. The school will often e-mail you the date and time of your registration, so make sure you have a current e-mail account that you check regularly. Write down the course registration numbers (CRN) for your classes beforehand, so that once your registration slot opens, you can punch in the numbers and nab classes before everyone else. Trust me, you want to be at your computer as soon as your slot opens. Otherwise, you will miss your chance to register for important required courses and interesting electives.
There are a few factors to keep in mind while choosing classes. Time is a big issue. Are you really going to get up at 7:00 am for the 8:30 am Politics of Religion class? No? Okay, then write down the CRN for the 10:30 am class. Be realistic about how many classes and the amount of coursework you can manage. Try to spread your classes out so that you have a reasonable schedule. It doesn’t always work out, but it’s generally a wise idea to have three shorter classes per day, Monday through Friday instead of five classes per day, Monday and Wednesday. First year students, avoid three hour lectures in your first semester. It takes time to get into the swing of 50 minute lectures, let alone THREE hour lectures.
Course professors are another factor to consider when choosing classes. Ratemyprofessors.com is a helpful way to get an idea of how each professor operates. Most students who use the website are fair in their assessments, but keep in mind that some students are reviewing their professors out of spite or boredom, or being weirdly ironic in their postings. That being said, if you read seventeen comments claiming that a prof is a tough marker, they probably are. If you have an older sibling or friend or older sibling’s friend who attends the university you’re looking into, ask them about the profs. It can’t hurt, right?
Finally, what will you do if most of your desired classes are full? Be sure you always have back up classes chosen. And yes—waitlists for full courses are worth it. Most of the lists move quickly, as people add and drop classes during the first week of school.
Most importantly, remember to breathe through the whole process. Even if you don’t get your first choices for all your courses, the alternative classes you take often turn out to be a better fit. If you still have concerns, communicate with the university. It’s likely at student before you has been in your situation, and your advisor will be able to help you determine your best options.