Opinion: A How-To Registration Guide From an Overplanner

The author, Berkley junior Bella Bakeman, sits at her desk writing in a notebook in front of her laptop, open to her Degree Works audit, the fall 2024 course schedule and her digital advisee notes. Bakeman’s friends joke that she is their supplemental advisor (Photo illustration by Katherine Simpkins).

I ran to my laptop the minute I had access to the Fall 2024 course schedule – I just had to know what classes were being offered. As a future educator, nothing excites me more than picking my classes for the next year. 

But, let’s be honest, registration is one of the most stressful parts of attending a small liberal arts college.

Registration is both my favorite and least favorite time of the year. There’s no guarantee the classes you need to graduate will be offered, you have no idea who is going on sabbatical and if you have labs to take, you have to fit those in somehow. 

Thankfully, I’m an incoming senior; making three plans for registration was fairly easy. I have an early time slot, only a few requirements for my major, concentration and minor left – and I’ve been done with my modes and categories for a while now.

But, while it was easy for me, my friends were panicking.

Within the span of thirty minutes, I had two of my best friends begging for my help organizing their schedules. We joke amongst ourselves that before they meet with their advisors, they first have an advising meeting with me.

Though I cannot predict what will be offered next semester, and I don’t understand all of the intricacies of each department, I am nothing if not a fantastic organizer. 

When I started offering “pre-advising” sessions, it was just my two friends and I. Slowly but surely though, my number of advisees has grown, steadily climbing every semester. Currently, I’m working on creating plans for at least six of my friends. 

Why? Because it’s fun for me. And honestly, I think if more folks looked at it that way, they’d have a lot easier of a time navigating advising and registration; without wanting to pull their hair out.

So, from an amateur advisor, here is how I go about making a course schedule; starting with some advice from my Academic Advisor, English Professor Jess Roberts:

“Think about your major, your gen ed requirements, what you love and when you’re going to eat,” Roberts said at the tail end of her advising email; it’s honestly the best advice I could give you.

Step One: Think About Your General Education Requirements

If you’re early in your academic career, it’s best to get those general education requirements out of the way. Those modes and categories really sneak up on you and – let’s be honest – unless you’re in STEM already, the last thing you want to do is take a science lab your senior year.

So, pick one or two to tackle this semester and make a list of possible classes that fulfill these requirements.

Step Two: Think About Your Major, Minor and Concentration Requirements

This is where you should be consulting your academic advisor(s). You’re required to meet with your major advisor, but I’d take the extra step and meet with a faculty member from any other majors, minors or concentrations you might have. They will all have different, important advice to give you.

Ask questions like:

What is the most important class that I take this semester? When will this important class be offered again? How fast does this class fill up? What order should I register for my classes? Are there any prerequisites to these classes?

Once you meet with them, do the same thing you did with your general education requirements. Prioritize the classes your advisor told you to prioritize, and make a list of possibilities.

Step Three: Think About Your Mondays Wednesdays Fridays (MWF) and Tuesdays Thursdays (TR)

Some people like to pile up all of their classes on MWF and barely have time to eat, if that’s important to you, then make sure your schedule reflects that. Other folks like to have all of their classes out of the way by 12 p.m. – if that sounds appealing to you, prioritize classes that make this happen.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll get the classes – and schedule – you want. But, it’s important to consider: Would you rather take a class you really like at 8 a.m. or a class that doesn’t sound as appealing at 1 p.m.?

Think about your various meetings, job schedule and when you like to shower, sleep and simply exist – your future self will thank you.

Step Four: Make a Plan!

Most advisors ask that you make at least one plan before meeting with them; make sure you look closely at your email from them in this case.

I like to make three plans. The first has the classes I have to take paired with my preferred schedule; as much as I can. The second has the classes I have to take, with some variation in case the classes fill up. The third has the class I must get into, with variations of the rest.

Step Five: Breathe and Recognize That it Will All Be Okay

At the end of the day, you’re going to graduate; everyone is rooting for you. Your advisor will make sure you’re taking the classes you need to take. And, there are loopholes if you don’t get the classes you need.

My Final Tips and Tricks

  1. If a class fills up, email the professor immediately. Oftentimes, they have at least one-three extra seats. The earlier you email, the better chance you have of getting in. If you don’t get a response in 24-48 hours, send a polite follow-up; it’ll show your interest and care.
  2. Take classes with your friends, if you can. Most Albion College students only get eight semesters’ worth of classes, which sounds like a lot; take it from me, it goes by fast. Classes with friends are always more fun. You have people to study with and get more quality time with them overall – some of my favorite classes were taken with my best friends.
  3. Make your schedule as early as you can! It’ll ease your mind.

And that’s it, I hope this was helpful and eases some of the stress registration can bring. As for booking an advising meeting with me, I’m sorry to say, but I am fully booked this semester.

About Bella Bakeman 51 Articles
Bella Bakeman is a junior from Berkley, Michigan. She is majoring in English with a Secondary Education Concentration and minoring in Political Science. Bella seeks to bring both joy and justice to her readers. She can be found with a camera around her neck, notebook in hand and pen in her pocket. Contact Bella via email at INB10@albion.edu.

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