It seems like this semester started just yesterday...and it is already time to register for next semester!
By now, most of you should have received your registration time slot on MyU, should have met with your advisor and be looking at your 4-year graduation planner to prioritize classes to take in Spring 2017. Ideally, you are able to select classes in a prioritized manner, taking the prerequisites for your major in the appropriate sequence.
But sometimes, you reach the end of your priority order and you are left with choices like multiple free time slots in which to accommodate different section options or 3 different professors to choose from. Here are some common dilemmas and how you can go about resolving them when choosing from among different sections:
1. Morning or night section?
At what time do you think you will be able to focus and devote the best of your energy to the class? Some people unequivocally define themselves as ‘morning’ or ‘night’ people, and can make a decision based on that. Here are some other considerations:
If the night section would be after a long day with several other classes, I recommend not taking the night section because you would inevitably be mentally exhausted by that time
During the second half of Fall Semester and the first half of Spring semester, it gets darker early due to daylight savings. If you live off campus or in a relatively isolated area, it might be important that you not take a night class which might make it harder to commute back and forth.
Notwithstanding all this careful planning, you are bound to take some classes during your college career which will be scheduled for your least favorite time of the day! Ultimately, we all learn through trial and error and become better at making these decisions over the semesters. I myself have had some strenuous experiences with oddly timed classes; Organic Chemistry lab from 6-9 pm two times a week, five 8 am classes a week, Biology lab from 6-9 pm at the St Paul campus twice a week. In some cases, I did not really have a choice. But before I took those classes, I did not really know what classes at those times would feel like. So if I had to make a choice in subsequent semesters, I could count on these past experiences to tell me what time of the day I preferred my classes.
2. Online or in-class?
Can you stay disciplined and self-motivated to stay on track with deadlines for an online class? Some online classes have a pre-determined pace with strict assignment deadlines and regular lecture postings, while others are self-paced.
If you are not certain of your level of discipline, I recommend taking an online class ONLY if you cannot accommodate the in-class version in your schedule and you HAVE to take that class during that particular semester.
3, Which professor?
Many people refer to professors like “rateMyprofessor” or post on Class facebook pages asking for others’ opinions on professors for their prospective classes. I say that you exercise caution in adhering to these sources, since a vast majority of them are subjective views. While there might be some generally uniform opinions about a professor, there is every chance that you might think differently, and there is no way of knowing until you take the class.
You can take assurance from the fact that in college, the professor usually does not ‘teach’ you or define your learning like your teacher in grade school or high school did. They play more of a facilitator’s role, prescribing the material that is there for you to learn and holding office hours to answer your questions; but you as a student need to work out how you best learn that subject matter.
Hence, my personal take on resolving this dilemma is to push it to the end of your priority order. after considering other factors like timing of the section and fitting it properly in your schedule.
4. How many credits?
You must register for 13 credits to qualify as a full-time student. Some scholarships and financial aid packages will require to register for a minimum of 15 per semester, to continue receiving aid. So you must first ensure that you are enrolled for the minimum based on your individual circumstances. The maximum allowed credit limit is 21. Students do not normally take 21 credits unless they changed majors during their junior year or are otherwise pressed to take many classes in a short time to graduate within 4 years. Between 15 and 21, you could choose to accommodate more credits based on your level of comfort with the course load, and how much you think you can handle.
In my view/from my experience, it helps to take more credits than the minimum during your initial years to complete prerequisites, so that you have more wiggle room during your junior and senior years to make time for tough courses, or to add a minor if you discover a new interest!
When adding credits to your semester, I also recommend prioritizing major required pre-requisites over liberal education requirements; there are several choices for lib-eds every semester, but pre-requisites might only be offered at specific times/must be completed by a certain semester for you to proceed smoothly with your major.
In spite of all these careful considerations and prudent planning, you might find during your first week of school that your schedule actually feels more crowded than you thought, too light or you might even realize that you forgot to add a crucial required class! This is why we have 3 weeks at the beginning within which to add, swap and withdraw classes.
Last but not least, take advantage of the Schedule Builder on myU which gives you multiple schedules which have the classes you have preselected. You can see an example of the schedule builder below.