I’m sorry I'm so late with today's post. But let's not dwell on the hole and forget to enjoy donut! The important thing is, I'm back and I've got useful general information about course registration. As an academic advisor, I consistently find that most students, regardless of class level, go about course registration all wrong. Most rely on advisors and professors to do it for them and/or take whatever classes are available with little to no thought of their overall academic and professional goals. Selecting your classes haphazardly can be dangerous. You could end up with horrible professors or taking classes at ridiculous times of the day and you could even end up having to take and extra semester/year to complete your degree. I've provided some general information below that will hopefully help students prepare to register for their classes. In future posts I will discuss more class/major specific information. These are just your basic do's and don't. Don’t miss the bus and keep checking back for more. .
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- Have a Plan- Nothing grinds my gears like asking a student about his/her plans for the semester and hearing the infamous “ I don’t know” as a response. When I hear it I have to pray and consciously repress the reflex like desire to immediately throat chop my student and consequentially lose my job. Even if you have not yet decided your major you should have some sort of idea of the classes you’d like to take this semester. Take some responsibility for you college experience. It's the moment you've been waiting for, you get to take what you want to, when you want to. Familiarize yourself with your degree requirements, read through the course calendar, etc. Identify required courses and courses that may be of interest to you. This way when you meet with your advisor, you have something to build on.
- You have an Advisor, take advantage – In my experience I’ve noticed two common misconceptions when it comes academic advisors. Either students treat advisors like personal shoppers and expect them to find and select all of their classes for them, or students don’t feel that they need academic advisors and take care of their own course registration. Realistically, the student /advisor relationship should be a balance of these two extremes. You as a student must take responsibility for your education but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything by yourself. Your advisor is an indispensable resource that you should take full advantage of. Your advisor is there to help you find yourself and find your way through your college experience. Think of him/her as a liaison, a person who is there to connect you to the classes, professors, campus resources etc that will maximize your academic experience.
- Make You Liberal Arts/General Education Requirement Your First Order of Business - Ask any senior who waited until his/her last year to take Public Speaking 101 of Intro to Biology (Plants & Phyla) and he/she will tell you that putting liberal arts/general education requirements off is not the move. These classes are fundamental and introductory requirements and everyone has to take them. This almost always means that these classes are of boring, crowded and offered at inopportune times. If you are a freshman, sophomore, take as many of these liberal arts/general education classes as you can. If you have to get up at 8:30am on MWF, trust me, you would rather do it your freshman year! In your junior/senior years you will need to focus your time and energy on your major classes and preparing for graduate school. Also if you have no idea what you want to do with you life, and haven’t declared a major taking these classes can also help you find your niche.
- Keep it Real- Be honest with yourself, figure out the conditions under which you are most efficient and productive and try your best to govern your schedule accordingly. Take a long hard look at yourself and be honest even if it exposes some of your flaws. For example, I’m tragically tardy and I’m not a morning person. I played myself one time and registered for an 8am class. It was TERRIBLE. Mid semester I promised God that if he got me through that class I’d never ever play myself like that again. Avoid what you know won’t work. For example, If you’re like me and can’t pry yourself from your bed until you’ve hit the snooze button 25 times. DO NOT fill up your schedule with all morning classes.
- 15 credits or Better * Case Closed* - A lot of times, students are told to only take the minimum number of credits (12) as to not “overwhelm” themselves. Baby, That is GRADE A BOLOGNA!!!! Nobody taking 12 credits each semester (fall and spring) will graduate in four years without taking summer or winter session classes (which are typically not covered by your financial aid). The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to tell a senior he/she wouldn’t be graduating on time because they were short 2, 3, 4 classes. It may take some doing, but as a college student you can and will learn to multitask and prioritize to handle your courses. Multitasking and time management are a part of every adult’s life. College/grad school is the perfect training ground to learn these valuable lessons. A great way to do that is to take as many classes as you can. I recommend students carry a minimum of 15-18 each semester.
I hope this has been helpful to you. Keep it here for more on the Back to School 2011 Series.