Friday, December 29, 2006

Lesson IV: Choosing Courses

At this point in the year (almost January) you should already have chosen and signed up for the courses you're going to be taking for next semester. But if your anything like some of my friends then you probably haven't even put a single thought into choosing classes yet and won't until the last possible minute. But fear not, this advice can help both the prepared student and the lazy procrastinator (for now and in the future.)

1. Review your course catalog.
First you should be looking at your college's course catalog for courses you're interested in and look for what courses you need for your major (this includes your prerequisites and gen. ed's.)

2. Speak with a councilor/advisor.
The entire purpose of an academic advisor is for them to help you find out what classes you need to take so you can get the education your looking for. Your college pays them so they can be there to help you when you need it; part of your tuition pays for their service. So why not use it? Call or walk into the admissions department and make an appointment to speak with a councilor. Even if you already know exactly what courses you need to take and what your doing for the rest of your year, it never hurts to have a talk with the councilor about your plans (they might have some helpful tips or information about your major that you haven't heard yet.)

3. When your choosing classes figure out why your taking them.
It seems like a simple enough concept but some students don't take the time to think about it. If you have to take a class for your major then there isn't much to think about (its just something your going to have to do) but if your considering taking a class just because your interested in the subject try to find out if you can have it can be credited as an elective credit for your major. If the course can't be counted as any sort of elective credit, try asking yourself if taking the class is worth the time, money and effort it will require (which is not to say that taking a class for fun isn't perfectly ok.)

4. Ask around about the course and professor.
Talk to your friends and ask around campus to find out what other students thought of a class and the professor who taught it. Was it so boring that the students were falling asleep during the lecture? Did they find the professor unapproachable for help? Its questions like that which are good to find out ahead of time. Keep in mind what your will be hearing are opinions and not necessarily facts so its just a small thing to take into consideration. Having trouble finding people who have taken a certain class or had a certain professor? With websites like Myspace and Rate My Professors that feature ratings and reviews on professors its easy for students to talk to each other about their experiences on a larger scale.

5. Do some searching.
Most college websites will provide links to or a directory of faculty websites. If you search through the directory of faculty and find the professors website who will be teaching the course you want to take, you may find that they have posted a syllabus or more detailed description of the class. You may find out that the class isn't exactly what you bargained for (before it's too late.)

6. Even if a class is full, don’t give up!
This is especially for the procrastinators out there who wait until the last minute to sign up for a class only to realize that every section is full. But fear not there is still a glimmer of hope. At many institutions the policy of course overrides are allowed. An override is if a professor is willing to sign a paper allowing an extra student into the class then the college will allow you to take the class and get credit for it. Keep in mind though that not all professors are more willing to sign an override for one reason or another (and excessive begging is not a good idea.) However, some professors are more willing to sign an override if some of the other students don’t show up on the first day (there’s usually at least a few of those people.) The best plan is to speak to the professor (or the department head) ahead of time and they might sign the override before class starts or they may ask you to show up to class the first day and they will do the best they can to squeeze you in. But as I have said this may work but don’t expect miracles, some professors make a policy of not writing overrides and some courses simply don’t have enough room or materials for more students then originally planned.

Although these are just a few tips they might be just what you need to help you find out what courses you need to take and help you to choose what courses you want to take.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good advice, thanks