Mid-Semester Class Advice from a Sophomore

The transition from high school to university brings a lot of changes. Some are great — hello, newfound freedom! — while others can be iffy and make you appreciate your secondary school days a bit more. Nevertheless, the one thing that I’ve come to think about the most is the arduous task of registering for classes before the start of each semester. I never really thought much about this part of academics until I came to Waseda University, so this week I would like to offer some advice as a halfway-through-the-year sophomore!

In some ways, having such a wide range to choose from is amazing. I can decide between several different professors for the exact same class, create a schedule designed to my meet my needs, focus exclusively on a certain subject area, and more. Last year was slightly more structured because I was busy trying to finish all my freshman requirements, but this semester I tried to give myself the chance to find what I like; something that I can see myself delving deeper into without feeling overwhelmed or bored. If I were to only talk about my satisfaction, I would have to say that I did a so-so job in course selections for the spring semester. Half of my professors are fantastic and clearly enjoy teaching — you can see that they really know their stuff and are ready to answer your questions. On the other hand, a couple of my current professors have questionable teaching skills and seem to prefer the 'hand-out-reading-material-and-call-it-a-day' method that I absolutely detest. While I want to avoid ranting about specific people, I was once again reminded that a syllabus and course outline alone cannot provide an accurate assessment of what the class will actually be like. Be careful when picking classes, and try to ask the people around you for reviews and/or opinions! 

Photo by StockSnap

Another important point to keep in mind is the timetable itself. I never had classes after fourth period last year, so it took some time getting used to my current routine. Even though I knew (very well) that I become extremely lethargic in the late afternoon, I decided to challenge myself and registered for fifth-period classes. This was a big, big mistake for several reasons. For starters, I didn’t really think about how tiring it would be to have two 9 am - 6 pm days in a row. I only looked at the general layout of my schedule, thought it looked fine and clicked submit. (Don’t do that! Don’t!) To add to my misery, one of my fifth-period classes is, in fact, a double-period class. Granted, the course material is very interesting and I genuinely look forward to every session — it’s just that my body is, for whatever reason, not wired to get through such a long day. When you’re organizing your classes, make sure to your physical and mental levels into consideration as well!

Overall, I think my current schedule is my favorite because the classes I can look forward to are sprinkled evenly throughout the week. I have rest days (hurray for no Saturday classes!), and the courses I registered for are subjects I can stick with for the next few years. Although this semester’s almost over, don’t forget that course registrations happen every semester and remember to plan ahead and to plan well!