It’s the time of year, past mid terms and Halloween, before Thanksgiving break and then the “home stretch” which is what your mother sweetly calls finals week. It is time to start thinking about what classes you are going to take next semester and prepare for the mayem that is registration. I’m in my senior year and have been feeling very nostalgic as I prepare for my final semester of school. Somewhere between deciding which 6000 level class to take and if 9:30am yoga is too much of a commitment, I’ve decided to dole out some unsolicited advice. For whatever it’s worth, here is one senior English major’s advice on picking classes.
1) Make a Four Year Plan
Think about how your four years of college are going to look and make a big chart with every semester of college and five slots in each semester. Are you terrible at math/science? Write down those tedious core requirements in differnt semeters so you only have to take one every other semester. Do you want to study abroad one Fall? Block that semester off so you can plan your Tulane classes around it. Write down everything you know that you will have to take and see how it looks over the span of your college career. Don’t spend one semseter taking all easy classes only to have to be swamped with work the next semester. Space out the requirements, hard classes, fun classes and the extras.
2) Read Rate My Professor and Evaluations
Reviews are helpful. It might seem obvious but it took me a few semesters before I realized that I could look up what other students thought of professors whose classes I was considering taking. Reading reviews can help you gauge whether or not you think you will enjoy taking said professor’s class. Reading reviews is very helpful so take it upon yourslef to write some too. Filling out evaluations and writing reviews seems like a drag but they are students’ way of paying it forward. Why not fill a core requirement with a professor you’ll actually like?
3) Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
If feminists intimidate you, take a gender studies course. If you dislike speaking in front of people, take an acting class. If you think that things are going great in the world, take Social Problems. Challenge yourself to take a class outside of your major, you might love it and want to make it your major. Challenge yourself to take a class where you won’t know anyone, you might make friends with someone that isn’t like everyone you already hang out with. Challenge yourself to change to learn different opinions, do something scary, give something a shot just for the hell of it.
4) Find an Academic Mentor
If you took a class and loved your professor, take another class with them, and then another. The best way to find an academic mentor is to cultivate relationships with them in class. If a professor spends time with you every semester, is constantly hearing you talk in class and reading your work, meeting with you in office hours, the stronger your relationship will develop. The more hours they spend interacting with you, the better advice they will be able give you, the better help you will get with your thesis, the better letter of recommendations you will get.
5) Don’t Be Afraid to Rearrange
Don’t feel like you are stuck with a class once you’ve registered. If you are dying to take a class you couldn’t get into, email the professor and show up on the first day. If you went to a class you registered for, didn’t like the professor or the assignments on the syllabus, drop the class if you can and try something else. Unless you absolutely have to take that class, you should never feel stuck with something you don’t like or aren’t excited about. It’s your education, you should want to learn it. Don’t suffer through a semeter of a class you hate because you need to fill a social sciences requirement. You’ll pick it up next time.