Registration Blues

College students, are you preparing to register for your next term of courses? If so, how many course schedules are you going to create? Of course you have your ideal schedule in mind, but what if you aren’t able to get one of those courses, or aren’t able to get the courses at the exact times you have identified? If you only create one course schedule, and it doesn’t come to fruition, how are you planning to handle the disappointment?

In the program I am associated, our students have priority registration and they almost always get their ideal schedule. However, these students must also enroll in a course within the program, and there are only 25 seats in each course. This is where registration stress comes in for them. This past registration cycle, more than 70 students, of our 380, wanted the same course, and another 50 wanted one other. These students had 18 course options, any many had to choose their second or third option. In our program, all the courses cover general education requirements, are taught by research faculty, and are a ratio of 1 to 25 or less, so in my opinion, there aren’t any bad options! But I can recall being 18 years old and stressed about registration. (Plus I live it with students all year long!)

The best way to lessen registration anxiety is to create at least three course schedules (or maybe five if you happen to register near the the last day of the registration cycle) the day/night before your registration time. The best way to do this is by knowing what courses you need in your major, or what courses overlap between majors and minors you are exploring. Doing this well requires time and effort with the course catalog and an academic advisor many days before (weeks before) registration. Why? Because outlining college courses is like a puzzle. Research your major(s), create a spreadsheet of course requirements, know which courses have prerequisites, and start planning, the more course plans the better! Create a lot of plans that will work. Unlike a 1000 piece puzzle, college is very expensive, so it is necessary to create multiple viable schedule options. Don’t let your parents or a friend do this for you – you need to take ownership of your education!

If (when) you do not get your first choice schedule during the first round of registration, figure out what adjustments you can make during the second round and during the first week of the term. Monitor wait lists, consult with advisors (again), email professors and most importantly, keep an open mind. You may have the ideal schedule, but you just don’t realize it yet! Whatever you do, do not have your parents calling or emailing your advisors, you are an adult, you are in college, you can handle this!

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