So you’re about to register for your first official semester of college classes!
ARE YOU EXCITED OR WHAT
Here are some friendly tips on getting through class registration smoothly and calmly.
First things first: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/
This is the link to the Columbia Directory of Classes which has all of the courses offered for the fall. Reaching out to current students about their experiences with professors or specific classes is a good way to gauge general interest. Keep in mind, however, that each person's experience is their own. You may hear totally conflicting opinions about a professor from different students. Take in the information and weigh all of the given factors, but ultimately, make the final decision yourself (this is good practice for larger life decisions too!)
Alright let’s get to it. As most of you know, during July 24th-28th you’re only planning for classes. You don’t officially sign up for your classes other than your First Year Writing/Seminar and PE class until September 1st so you’re not tied to any of the decisions, outside of the FYW/FYS courses, that you make. In fact, even after you register on September 1st there’s room for making changes. That’s where shopping week comes in.
Shopping week(s) goes from when classes start on September 5th through the 15th, which is the last day you have to finalize your schedule. That means you have TEN DAYS to try out as many different courses as you’d like before you commit.
A word of caution: if there are any classes you’re seriously considering make sure to attend the first class. Many professors won’t allow students who don’t attend the first meeting to enroll -- EVEN IF you’re registered for the course online -- as you often obtain the syllabus, introduction to the material, course expectations, and in some cases, a brief statement of interest in the course (if it’s over-enrolled) to finalize the roster. This means that on occasion, especially as underclassmen, you might not always get into your top pick classes on the first try. It can be a hard loss. But remember. Most of you have at least seven semesters left to try again.
All that being said, your schedule can go through some wild changes during shopping week or it can stay exactly the same. That’s up to you. I highly recommend staying open to options and not being married to your schedule before you even get to campus.
It’s easy to get super attached to the incredible-sounding classes you read about in anticipation for your first semester, but remember to keep an open-mind and at least attend the first class before you put a ring on it. You may meet new students during NSOP who mention a new class you’d never even heard of that you now want to add into your schedule. GREAT! Or you get the syllabus to a class you were really excited about and its focus is in a direction which doesn’t interest you as much as you thought it would. ALSO OK! Or maybe you go to a class just as a back-up and the professor is so inspiring and passionate about the material that it makes you feel all warm and excited inside (can you tell this exact thing has happened to me?) which is DOPE.
If a class seems too intense for your first-semester, or doesn’t interest you as much as you thought, don’t be afraid to drop it and try again another semester! On the other hand, if you’re really intrigued by a class but don’t think it’ll be “useful” for your future career or fulfill any requirements, try it out anyway. Follow your gut and don’t let any preconceived notions of what courses you were planning to take over the summer hold you back from following your dreeeaaaaams.
ON THAT NOTE! Keep in mind that you do not have to take classes in the same fields, departments, or areas of study that you did in high school. Your first semester, and college in general, is your chance to study completely new concepts! Try to find a balance between fulfilling some basic requirements and taking the classes that you want to take. You definitely don’t want to get stuck junior year with all of your Foundations general education requirements still unfinished, but taking classes across several disciplines can often fulfill some of those requirements and help you figure out your future major(s)/minor(s) along the way!
Remember to challenge yourself with your courses but don’t overwhelm yourself. Taking a few intro classes to get your feet wet in new/less familiar subjects alongside a little more advanced course in a subject you might want to major in or feel confident in. As tempting as it may be to sign up for 500 classes, keep in mind you’ll also be adjusting to college workloads, trying to find new groups of friends, exploring extracurricular options, applying for jobs, trying out/practicing for sports, auditioning/rehearsing for plays, and any other of the wonderful things you’ll be doing. Taking 18+ credits your first semester is unadvised for a reason: you won’t have as much time for other first-year experiences and could get very quickly overwhelmed.
Remember that this is your first of many semesters ahead. It is not the end all be all so try to take a deep breath, figure out what’s going to be most productive for YOU to learn your first semester and go from there. Many have come before you and many have gotten through it. You are Barnard students now. You GOT this!