I’ve always hated Webtree.
As a high school senior, freshly accepted into Davidson and whole-heartedly against the concept of “leaving home,” I complained enough about the confusing registration system that my mom filled out my Webtree for me. My freshman year, I went to my hall counselor’s Webtree “office hours” multiple times trying to get the technique down. It’s honestly embarrassing how many times I’ve watched the stupid video (linked here for your convenience).
Very briefly, this is the gist of Webtree – the algorithm goes down the left side of the tree until you can’t get into a class, whereupon it moves one space to the right. When you’re completely out of luck it moves to the fourth tree. The way I see it, you are nearly guaranteed your first choice class and everything else is essentially up for grabs. I know this is not very hopeful, but again, I hate Webtree.
Nevertheless, I am obsessed. My friends will attest to the joy I experienced when the Registrar’s Office released the 2016-2017 course schedule. As a junior, this is my second-to-last Webtree. I still despise it, but that almost makes me better to give advice, because I’ve received SO MANY TIPS from pitying friends.
1. Don’t panic. I’m still working on this one.
2. Prioritize. Your priorities should be preference, necessity for major/minor/distribution/graduation requirements, and arguably most important, POPULARITY. I forgot about factoring in popularity last year and missed out on getting a class I wanted by stupidly only going by my own preference. I could have easily gotten my ideal schedule if I hadn’t been an idiot. Rookie mistake. (Or if you’re me, veteran mistake.)
3. Write it out. I always write down everything I want multiple times, so much so that I essentially memorize the course schedule. My algorithmically-knowledgeable friend once made me a guide for ordering your classes on the trees, shown below (where #1 is your most preferred class and #7 is your least):
There are, of course, different ways to approach the tree system, but this one works and has gotten me my first tree multiple times. (Except when I mess it up on my own.)
4. Email professors!!! Like the Webtree nerd I am, I spent Saturday night of break emailing almost all of the professors in the English department, asking about syllabi, graduation requirements, and more. (Many of them responded not ten minutes later, which says something about either their dedication or my conveyance of desperation.) Professors want to help you. Seriously.
5. Take care of yourself. Don’t forget to consider your mental/emotional/physical health when planning your schedule. If you’re someone who typically stays up past 1 a.m., don’t take an 8:30 unless you absolutely need to. Believe me. I took an 8:15 my freshman fall; it’s never going to happen again.
Good luck to us all, cats. I’m gonna need it.
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