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Why Planning Ahead for Course Registration Day is Important

By Nandini S

Updated July 23, 2021 Updated July 23, 2021

Making lists, planning ahead, and being patient will ensure you'll have a smooth course registration day.

A shared sentiment among most university students, regardless of their year of study, is just how stressful course registration can be.

This one day, which can essentially determine the outcome of the next year of courses you will take shouldn’t be taken lightly, making preparing for it through various strategies crucial.

Before registration day

To earn a degree from a university, students will need to complete a series of courses including electives, course requirements, language components, and also undertake writing and literature components. While these vary for each person, the importance of recognising which courses to take is paramount to a stress-free course registration day.

Degree planning can be effectively tackled by starting with a general list of courses you need to take. In my university for psychology, we need certain lower-level classes (first- and second-year courses) and have more freedom in choosing our upper-year courses (third- and fourth-year courses).

We are also required to complete a certain number of elective courses and other requirements such as a writing course.

Using these required courses as a template, I identified the courses I wanted to undertake to complete my degree. Most importantly, for classes pertaining to my major, I created a ‘prerequisite tree,’ which identified the upper-year course I needed to complete, and which lower-level courses are needed as prerequisites for it.

These lists and charts are imperative to me at every stage in my degree to visualise how I want my degree to pan out and help me stay on track towards achieving my goals. 

In planning for course registration, (where I utilised my prerequisite tree and list of courses), it is ideal to create another list for the courses you will take in the upcoming term.

It’s important to focus on selecting the courses that would open many options in the future. For instance, intro-level courses to psychology may need to be completed before attempting upper-year courses. For any remaining spaces, doing electives that you find interesting are a great way to boost your knowledge and enjoy your studies. It is important to use electives and requirements to create a balance among your specialisation and electives - a religious studies course may be a welcome break if you are doing four mathematics courses for instance!

Most importantly before registration, create a finalised timetable including the classes you want to take. In creating this and choosing the course timeslots you will be able to ensure there are no overlaps between your classes.

You must consider your personal needs when creating the timetable. Some things to consider include whether you are more productive earlier in the mornings (take 8am classes) or later in the afternoon; and whether you prefer back-to-back lectures or sufficient breaks in between. As a recommendation, it’s always a good idea to have a ‘backup’ list of courses to take in case seats have filled up.

On registration day

Now that the day is finally here and [hopefully] you have planned ahead, chances are there is absolutely no need to be stressed, and it would be ideal to register as soon as possible on registration day. Some stressful situations, particularly a course being full, may arise, but we are well equipped to deal with them.

Here, the first thing to try, is using the previously created backup list for a good replacement. While this strategy has helped me get through course registration, it may not work for you if the required course is important and needed to further your degree.

In this case, it may be worth emailing the professor or the department. Needless to say, this should be done with caution and only in extreme circumstances as university resources are probably just as stressed during course registration.

However, students often discount the importance of waiting it out. More often than not, seats open up in courses well before the start of classes. Religiously checking the portal will boost your chances of getting a spot in the class. Remaining patient and flexible is the best thing to do in such a situation.

Overall, discounting the importance of course registration is something I faced the consequences of. Now burdened with a lots of unneeded elective courses due to registration mistakes, my course-load is now vastly dominated by a single discipline. Planning and working around obstacles are necessary for a successful course registration. In approaching this stressful day, it is important to remain adaptable and flexible towards which courses to take, while maintaining the importance of sticking to your plan.

This article was originally published in July 2021 .

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