Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Words of Advice from an Old Hat

Registration season is fast-approaching and now, nearly half way through my sophomore year, I find myself glancing wistfully back at my haphazardly designed freshman schedule and wishing fervently that I hadn't wasted those precious class slots with courses I wasn't crazy about. I'm not the only person with an acute case of course-remorse. Now that I'm more Major-minded and looking to the gritty details of how to fulfill my requirements I've been longing for Do-Over button (or a Time-Turner). So I've decided to offer a bit of advice to prospective students and freshman alike and steer them away from the path of aimless class selection.

When I started college, I wanted to explore. My thoughts were that I had the later part of my college career to buckle down and focus on my Majors, Minors, Concentrations and all that jazz. I dabbled in Philosophy, picked up a course in journalism and subjected myself to Econ, thinking it was necessary to fulfill a requirement which I later realized I could have satisfied concurrently while meeting other requirements.

Although there's something to be said for investigating the departments here (for many people find themselves wanting to major in a field that they hadn't planned on pursuing, simply because they fall in love with a class), I think it's probably wise to leave off the speculative portion of course selection until a little later. It's wiser, especially for that first semester of freshman year, when you don't yet have your bearings, to try and meet some of your distribution requirements. For example, if you're not a science/math person (thus a kindred spirit of mine) think about getting your Natural Science requirement out of the way that first semester.

Also, if you're a person who is pretty confident in your intended major when coming into college don't be afraid to load up on classes from that department You'll likely have to rack up plenty of credits from that field if you do eventually major in that area so the more you can get under your belt out of the gate, the better.

Being cognizant of these things will help to loosen up your schedule later so that you might have an opportunity to add a second major, or easily switch tracks if you decide you want to do something else, or juggle a couple of minors.

Also, holding off on exploring other departments will give you the opportunity to get some purchase in what those other departments have to offer. You might initially think that Religious Studies is an interesting tangent, but come to find that perhaps you're actually more interested in Philosophy and before you know it you've discovered your minor-- or maybe even your new major!