Registering for your college classes can be like something out of the Hunger Games. It’s very competitive, chaotic, and stressful. But if you create a plan and utilize the tips below, you can reduce anxiety and build an efficient class schedule. Every college is different, but typically, colleges assign a time slot based on the credits you’ve completed. Freshmen, this means it’s going to be difficult to get the classes you want as you are the last to register. Don’t let this scare you, you will have lots of options.
1. Don’t Take Just Any Class
Here at Your College Sensei, I like efficiency. Efficiency is important when it comes to getting through college in a timely manner. Prioritizing time and using it efficiently is the key to graduating quickly and with the least amount of debt possible.
I want you to choose your college classes wisely. Before you register for classes ask yourself, do I need to take this class? What purpose does it sever? Remember, every credit must have a purpose. I want you to only take classes that you need to graduate. DO NOT take a class for credits that you can’t apply to graduation. If they are not for GenEd, electives, core, or major, don’t take them.
Always remember the goal is, “Through In Two, Finish In Four” There is no way you will be able to accomplish the latter if you take classes you don’t need.
2. Focus On The Right Classes
Don’t register for just any classes as it can be a huge waste of time and money.
Freshman and Sophomores: You will be working on General Education classes and electives. Therefore, you should have numerous classes to choose from. If you know your major there will be a few classes, probably prerequisites, that you can take. For students who want to try new things and have a little fun, you can still accomplish this without taking additional classes that are unnecessary. An example is if you want to try ballroom dancing, martial arts, ballet, archery, or snowboarding, you can take these to fulfill your PE (physical education) requirements. You can do the same thing with painting, sculpting, astrology, etc., many new and interesting classes will meet a GenEd requirement.
Juniors and Seniors: You have most likely declared your major, take only what is required to graduate. If you have extra time don’t take additional classes. Get a job, an internship, or mentorship, something that you can put on your resume/CV as you will be entering the workforce shortly.
3. Register As Soon As You Can
As I mentioned above, most colleges assign a time slot based on the credits you have completed. You will know the exact time you can register. This is where “may the odds ever be in your favor”. Make sure your computer has a full charge and a strong wifi connection. It’s going to get crazy and intense when your time slot opens.
I want you to set an alarm for 10 minutes before your registration period. This is important because your time may fall during work or even first thing in the morning when you are sleeping. If you can, add all your first-pick classes to your cart. If they are available all you have to do is hit register the second your time slot opens. If someone beats you to the class then quickly try to add your backup class.
4. Check For Prerequisite Classes
Knowing what your prerequisites are can save you both time and money. Checking your prerequisites can also make registering for classes easier. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a class picked out and then realizing you can’t take it because you haven’t taken the prerequisite. Therefore, make sure you know your prerequisites.
Sometimes it is difficult to know if a class has a prerequisite. College classes that require a previously completed course as the prerequisite are typically indicated in the class schedule with an asterisk (*) symbol. Usually, you will be able to click on the asterisk or hover over it to read what the prerequisites are. Sometimes there is a dropdown menu. Some course descriptions will state if there is a prerequisite and what it is. Prerequisites are classes you should be taking in your first two years.
5. Have Backup Classes
It’s very likely you won’t get into all the classes you want or need. Classes can fill up quickly. This is where planning ahead helps. Be sure to have a few backup courses before you register for classes. You don’t want to be looking for an alternative class as you are registering. Have a list of your first-choice, second-choice, and third-choice classes. Don’t forget, that even your second and third choices need to be applicable to graduation requirements.
6. Check The Number Of Class Seats
Most colleges show how many seats are available in the class. Use this to see if getting the class is possible. If there are 2 or 3 seats open your chance of getting into the class may be slim. This is where your backup classes come in.
Even before my registering time, I was always able to see how full classes were getting. Start checking classes a few days before. This will give you an idea of what you’ll be able to get. I was also allowed to add classes to my cart.
7. Look Up Your Professors
A few weeks before you register for classes, I highly recommend you visit Rate My Professor. This website allows students to see feedback and reviews on their college professors. This helps a student decide whether they’ll be a good fit. Unfortunately, some professors are notorious for being hard and not giving out A’s while others are known for being easier. I never took a class without looking up the professor first. If I had to take a hard professor I wanted to know before I registered for the class.
8. Location, Location, Location
Many colleges have more than one campus. Be sure to check which location the class is at. You don’t want to have a class on the main campus and then have another at a different location and not have time to get to it.
9. If You Don’t Get A Class There’s Still Hope
If you don’t get into a college class, try and get on the waitlist. Many times, students will switch or drop the class allowing for a seat to open and you move from the waitlist into the class.
You can also crash the class. Crashing is when you can’t get into the class or on the waitlist, so you just show up to the class looking to add it. I crashed several classes successfully. Often, professors allow you to come to class for the first week or so as they know many students may drop or not show up which creates room for you. This is a gamble as you may have to go to 2 or 3 classes before knowing if you are in the class but if you need the class it may be worth it.
If you are taking an online class and are trying to crash it, email the professor and let them know that you are either on the waitlist and really want to be added or that you were unable to get on the waitlist and would like to be notified if any space becomes available. Professors are usually very good about letting you know if you can get in or not.