When I first started college, I couldn’t believe how many classes were offered and I found myself overwhelmed with exciting options. Building a good schedule is like a puzzle. You want to choose courses that are interesting to you, that fulfill the requirements of your major, that satisfy general education requirements, that don’t overlap with each other or conflict with your work schedule, and are held at a time of day that makes sense for your habits.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to figure this out all on your own! Your advisor can help, and so can we.
Most colleges and universities have their incoming freshmen attend an early advising session before the fall semester starts. This usually occurs at orientation. Here you will have the opportunity to meet with an advisor, to review available courses, discuss your course of study, and to register for your academic schedule for the first semester.
While every institution of higher learning handles registration differently, there are some basics you should be aware of prior to meeting with your advisor and signing up for classes.
1. It is important to use your scholarship dollars wisely.
As such, we recommend you take your core classes and general education requirements before branching out and taking random electives. Of course, most liberal arts degrees require electives to graduate, so don’t be afraid to shuffle some of these required courses in with your degree classes. It’s important to be aware of your strengths and interests. If you aren’t so great at math or science, spread these requirements out with classes that speak more to your interests and natural abilities. You don’t want to overload yourself!
2. It is okay if you do not know what you want to do!
However, taking a bunch of classes to try out a new major is not recommended. Take one or two if you’d like, but you don’t want to load up a whole semester’s worth of scholarship dollars as an Engineering Major only to find that this major isn’t a good fit! Consider getting your general education requirements out of the way first to give yourself more time to decide what you want to do. You have an abundance of amazing, helpful resources on your campus; visit the career center, talk with professors, and consult with your advising team instead of jumping right in.
3. If you do know what degree you want to pursue, it helps to go into registration and advising with some idea of what the requirements are for your program.
You can find these on your department’s website. Consider looking into the degree auditing function available on your student account via the college/university website. Here you can see exactly what courses you need to graduate and will allow you to peruse the class offerings prior to your advising session. This will help you prioritize courses in your advising session. Of course, your advisor will be abreast of the courses you need, but you are more likely to have a good experience in your classes if you can go into your registration with some decisions made ahead of time. You might get classes that are more interesting to you or at better time slots for your schedule.
4. Similarly, if you know you want to pursue a graduate degree consider looking up the basic requirements for that advanced degree. You may need to take a particular science course, like Organic Chemistry.
5. Go into registration with a good idea of your schedule.
Are you working afternoons this semester? Are you NOT a morning person? Do you think that you will be traveling a lot and need Friday afternoons off? Having a clear idea of your time can help you build a course schedule that is right for you!
6. If your advisor doesn’t set your schedule for you in your meeting, registration is usually handled online.
If you do not own a personal computer, go to the library at your school or in your community. There are plenty of desktops you can use! Further, your school library might even have laptops you can check out for hours or days at a time. These will come in handy when it is time to write papers!
Building a good schedule is the first step to starting school on the right foot. It is best to go into your advising appointments ready with ideas, questions, and concerns. Feel free to reach out to your College Completion Coach. We can help you prepare for your advising session so that you can build your perfect schedule with your campus advisor.
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