In high school, you probably sat down with your guidance counselor towards the end of spring term and planned your courses for the following year. No matter what, you weren’t going to be overlooked — someone would be sure to chase you down until you scheduled. It couldn’t be more different in college. For one, you’re going to choose classes twice a year at most colleges, and three or four at some others – and that’s not including any summer courses you might take. Secondly, in college, you take the responsibility for making sure you’re registered – and the sooner, the better. Thirdly, colleges have an add/drop period, usually the first two weeks of the semester, during which you can change your mind. That’s just for starters. Below, read more specific advice on registration and advisement.
Academic advisement in college is crucial! Although the option exists for you to select your own courses and self-register, academic advising is critical, particularly for students who learn differently. The optimal situation is seeing someone in the disability services office who knows you well and is familiar with your learning style. Your advisor can hand pick courses and instructors that suit you best, as well as select classes at times you are most alert. It is vital to take your biological clock into account when scheduling your courses.
Don’t retake classes during summer that you didn’t pass during fall or spring. Most colleges are on the semester system, meaning there are two semesters of fifteen weeks each. Summer courses are also offered, but the summer term is always much shorter, usually five to six weeks. Students who fail classes during the regular school year tend to retake them in summer, so they can catch up. It seems logical, until you consider the fact that if they didn’t understand the course in a 15-week semester, what is the likelihood of doing well in a summer class that goes up to three times as fast? Re-taking difficult classes during the summer is usually a recipe for disaster. Always make decision with your GPA (grade point average) in mind. You want to set yourself up for success. If your goal is to catch up on credits, take a summer course in which you know you can do well — either an elective or a course in your major that is of strong interest to you. When all is said and done, simply completing college is not a very wise goal, especially considering the huge financial outlay college represents; it’s how you finish that ultimately counts for both transfer and employment.
Lastly, be aware of deadlines. Procrastinating with registration results in having to choose from what’s already been picked over. As a rule, the most engaging professors’ classes fill first. Make sure you go for advising the first week of registration, so you’re guaranteed to have the most choices.
Remember, in college, no one is going to hunt you down. It is YOUR responsibility to know when registration begins and to set up an appointment to discuss your classes with your advisor.