Staff Editorial: Find balance, try something new next semester
Although for some it may feel that the semester just started, it’s time to start thinking about spring. More specifically, it’s time to determine classes for next semester. Registration begins for seniors on Friday, Nov. 8, followed by juniors, sophomores and freshmen on November 11, 12 and 13, respectively. Although it may be tempting to wait until late the night before to open course listings for the first time, make sure you have your registration worksheet set and ready to go.
Having classes picked out will help you register faster and thus increase your likelihood of getting into the classes you want. Also, having your worksheet done when you meet with your advisor can make the meeting less stressful. Don’t forget to speak with your advisors and have them approve your registration so that you don’t log onto WebStac on the day of registration only to discover that you are unable to register.
If you don’t have a good registration time, don’t worry. Getting off waitlists is possible, even common. Still, it’s important to have back-up classes and over-enroll so that you can shop around a bit during the first couple weeks of the semester. Although it can be comforting to have your schedule set in stone on registration day, it doesn’t have to be. The add-drop period is a great opportunity to try something new and get a feel for different classes. Adding and dropping multiple classes throughout that period is perfectly normal and professors expect it, so don’t worry about offending anyone or being judged for dropping.
Although over-enrolling is the perfect way to shop around, make sure you actually end up dropping some of those classes. Don’t take an unnecessarily large course load just because you think you can handle it if you really don’t have to. It’ll just cause you extra stress and lessen both the enjoyment and quality of learning you get out of those classes.
When finding balance in your schedule, make sure to not only keep in mind the level of difficulty of classes but also what kind of classes you’re taking. Try to take at least one class simply because you find the topic interesting and not because you need to reach a predetermined goal. There’s nothing wrong with taking a class for no reason other than that you want to. Also, remember that finding a balance isn’t just about classes. Keep in mind the extracurricular, employment or other obligations you may need to juggle next semester.
If you can’t get into a class you want, use that space in your schedule to knock out some kind of requirement. However, if you really need that course, email the professor and explain your situation. You’ll often make your case more compelling if you meet with them face-to-face by stopping by their office hours. It works more often than you’d think.
Professors can make or break a class, but it can be hard to access useful information about some members of the faculty. If you want to learn more about a professor, check their course evaluations. Although Rate My Professors can be tempting, reviews are often biased and not representative of what your experience would probably end up being. If you don’t find the course evaluation results helpful or if the professor is fairly new and doesn’t have any, ask around about them. Contact friends and peers in that academic department to see if they or anyone they know has had an experience with that professor. Having a conversation with another person will tell you ten times more than any online evaluation.
If you still can’t get a good sense of what a class or a professor might be like, the add-drop period will once again be your best friend. Nothing will help you learn more about a class than actually sitting in it, so don’t be afraid to try things out. Happy registration, Wash. U.!