4 Tips For Selecting New Semester Classes
Updated: Oct 21, 2022
by Lauren Yost, Staff Writer
When it's time for your student to choose classes for their next semester, there are many factors to consider. Here are four important steps your student can take to set them up for success during the course registration process.
1. Know Your Expected Graduation Date
Plans may change later on, but it can be helpful for your student to at least start thinking about how long they will be in school before graduation. A bachelor’s degree typically takes 4 to 6 years to complete and it takes about 2 years to earn an associate’s degree. Talk to your student about their expectations surrounding graduation; it’s important for both students & families to share their thoughts and be on the same page.
Another way of looking at the time frame of your student’s college journey is by the number of credits they plan to take per semester. To earn a bachelor’s degree, students are typically required to earn 120 credits. If a student takes 15 credits a semester, or about 5 classes per semester (worth 3 credits each), they would graduate in four years.
5 courses per semester may not be realistic or practical for all students or majors. Always have your student do what is best for THEM, not what they think EVERYONE ELSE is doing.
2. Consider Taking Classes in the Winter / Summer
Not all classes have to be taken during the fall or spring semesters. Many classes are offered during the summer or winter break. Check to see what classes their college offers in winter or spring minimesters or explore courses at a local community college or at another college the offers online courses.
When considering taking a class at another college or university, don't forget this very important step; your student needs to make sure the class’ credits will transfer. It is not guaranteed that taking a class at another college will count towards your student’s degree at their current college/ university.
Before signing up for a class at another institution, your student needs to consult their academic advisor (or the Registrar's Office) to ensure the credits they earn from a summer / winter class will transfer. Your student’s hard work should count!
There are advantages and disadvantages to taking classes at other institutions. Winter and summer classes are much shorter than a typical course, but your student’s class may meet for 3-4 hours every day. Students are able to complete the class over a shorter period of days, but the amount of time spent in the classroom will be about the same.
This may be a great fit for some students by allowing them to concentrate on one class at a time. Second, taking a summer or winter course removes some of the other distractions of a regular semester.
However, there will be lots of information taught in one session and they will have limited time outside of class to complete projects and write papers. Essentially, it is a more intense way to take a class and can be overwhelming for some students.
3. Meet With An Advisor
Selecting classes in college is different than in high school. In high school, students have a school counselor that can serve as a resource when planning the student's schedule for the next semester or year.
Similarly, in college, your student will have an assigned academic advisor. However, in college It is the student’s responsibility to seek out an advisor if they have questions about class registration. Academic advisors do not necessarily need to proactively schedule meetings with students.
Academic advisors can be very helpful during the course registration process. They can ensure your student is taking the appropriate classes for their major and is on track to graduation. Advisors may be able to answer general questions about professors. The advisor may know information such as, “This professor has a long paper due at the end of the semester” or “This professor is new to our school” but there is no guarantee they are familiar with any or all professors.
4. Choose Classes During the Best Day / Time for Your Student
When picking classes, your student should consider the time of day they have the most energy and focus. If they don't like waking up early, they should look for classes later in the day. If your student plays a sport, they will want to plan their class schedule around games and practices.
Students should also consider the balance of their schedule. How many classes are they taking per day? Sometimes, students aim to take all of their classes on one or two days and have the rest of the week free. However, this may create one or two very stressful days, and leave the rest of the week mostly unstructured.
Encourage your student to use a schedule maker such as this one from Coursicle to plan out their classes and visualize their week. This can help organize their schedule as well as make sure their classes don’t overlap each other.
Your student ultimately makes the final decision about the classes they take each semester, but these 4 important tips will make registering for new classes each semester a little bit easier!