A Freshman’s Guide To Surviving Class Registration
The summer before freshman year of college is a time full of excitement and transitions. You just completed a chapter of your life and you are ready to move on to bigger and better things.
For most universities, summer is also the time when you head to your down to your college, meet your new advisor for the first time, and experience the first round of class registration.
Registering for classes in high school is quite a bit different than it is when you enter college. In high school, there is a general track of classes that you have to follow, everyone takes the same number of courses and receives the same diploma at graduation. Your guidance counselors are there to make sure you are filling all the requirements, and in the end your finalized schedule is handed to you.
In college you still have an advisor that makes recommendations about what courses to take in order to graduate on time with the degree you want, but when it comes time to register, what you take and when is completely up to you.
I remember when I first registered last summer, I was surprised at how much freedom I had with my schedule and I was unsure what classes to take, when, where, how many and so on. In order to prevent you from being as clueless as I was this time last year, here are some guidelines to follow when registering for classes.
- Take a mixture of general education requirements and classes for your major
Most people think that it is a good idea to rush and complete all your gen eds you need in the first year of college. While it is important to get a start on those classes, it is also a good idea to take some of the classes for your major. If you wait until junior to begin taking classes for your degree, you might find out that you hate it, and it may be too late to change. Another good thing about gen eds is that they are often offered during the summer or at community college, so there are lots of opportunities to take them.
- Be sure to register as early as possible
Most schools register in order of graduating class, and freshmen are normally the last to go because they have more time to complete all their requirements than the upperclassmen. That being said, it is very important to register as soon as your time ticket allows, because the later you register the more likely it is that classes will be full. I am guilty of leaving my advisors office, forgetting to register until a few days later and having to ask my professor to make room in a class for me because I couldn’t get in. Avoid this added hassle and register as soon as you can! It’s also a good idea to go to summer registration before freshman year as early as you can during the summer in order to make sure you have the highest potential for open classes.
- Take a reasonable amount of classes – don’t overwhelm yourself with credit hours
I remember when I went to register for my first round of classes, I felt as if I was already behind. There were so many requirements I had to fulfill, and I just wanted to start checking them off the list. I signed up for 18 credit hours one semester, and eventually had to drop a class because it was too much to handle. It is more important to do well in the classes you do take, then overwhelm yourself by taking an extra course to try to get ahead.
- Check the location and time of classes before adding a course
One aspect that you have to get used to when registering for college courses is worrying about the time and location of classes. In high school, you go to each class every day and they are all in the same building. In college you have more freedom when it comes to the time you go to class, and the time you have in between. Most courses meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday and Thursday. Occasionally you will get a class that is only once a week, but it would last for three hours at a time, to cover the same amount of material.
You have to decide whether you want your classes spread out during the day or “stacked” so that you go from one to another in a short period of time. It would be helpful to have a map handy when registering for courses so you can tell if you’d be able to make it between classes in time depending on the location of the buildings. The website Scheedule.com is a resource to keep in mind that can help you decide how to arrange your classes.
Registering for classes for the first time tends to be a little bit overwhelming and stressful, but after going through it once you will get the hang of it. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always make a follow up appointment with your advisor. I always send a copy of my schedule to my advisor for him to double check and to see if he has any recommendations.