It’s that time of year again.
The time when we finish up the semester, panicking over exams and final papers, but when we also look forward to the next term with the hope that things will go better than they did this time around. You say that your grades will be higher, you’ll spend more time studying, and you’ll do most of the work ahead of time instead of at the last minute—you’re lying to yourself, but it’s the thought that counts, right? In this brief few weeks of school when looking far ahead some people prepare ahead of time so that they’re able to get into exactly the courses they need/want, and others wait until someone can help them figure out what they’re supposed to be doing.
I am always prepared ahead of time when it comes to enrollment. I’ve always been this way, because for some reason I get really excited about picking new classes. No real idea why, but it could relate to the hope thought above. So by the time that my enrollment appointment rolls along I’m ready to go and 95% of the time I get the courses I want. The Captain, on the other hand, tends to wait for my assistance (because I am the bomb at enrollment, obviously) and then freaks out a little because some of the classes he needs are already full.
When you’re a young college student, fresh-faced and carrying too much in your backpack, there’s all the time in the world to take those classes you need and some time to take those you don’t. When you’re an older college student, a senior for the third time round, it’s a bit harder to get exactly what you need to be able to get the hell out of dodge. Some classes that are required are only available in Fall of even years or they’re required but they just don’t have the professor for the class so it’s unavailable.
It also depends on your major. English—my major—is usually full of interesting courses that can fulfill my requirements. Sometimes, due to outside reasons, a class I want isn’t available, but it’s easy to replace with something else. The requirements are also a bit more lax than those of The Captain’s wildlife ecology degree, because we just have general classes we need to take i.e. twelve credits in subjects outside of writing for me. Which can mean linguistics, literature, etc. With his requirements it’s like ‘you have to take this one exact course or you’re doomed.’
However, even with planning ahead as I do, there’s the time period between enrollment in April and actual school in August. That’s four months to change my mind about what I want to do. Sometimes, as with this past semester, I discover that the class is not quite right for me and then sometimes struggle to find a replacement. I dropped a history class because I was worried about presentation anxiety, and somehow ended up in an elective health class from hell.
Knowing your requirements by heart for your degree really helps with enrollment or having the information at your side while doing it. That way, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to see an advisor and can do most of it yourself. For example, I know that as a liberal arts major I am required to have two courses inside the college but outside my minor and major that don’t fulfill any other requirements. So last night after helping The Captain with his enrollment, I thought about it and looked up the Japanese courses. Lo and behold the first level is only available in the fall so I made the decision to sign up for that and to drop one of the more common English classes that I know is available every semester. Now Japanese is an interesting choice I know, because I could’ve just as easily chosen an art or theater class. However, Japanese seems really interesting to me, I’m familiar with some of the basics due to anime and previous learning, and it’s a Freshman-level course.
So basically it’ll be a fun class, especially compared to my required U.S. foreign policy one.
When you take a lot of electives as a young student it tends to kick you in the ass later on. Namely, when you’re a third year senior and trying to enroll in courses you could’ve taken a few semesters ago if you’re foregone the ‘fun’ elective. However, that’s not to say you shouldn’t take electives—some of the best classes I’ve taken were electives—because studying unfamiliar or interesting things can teach you about yourself. I took an agriculture class and loved it. Will it prove useful later on? Who knows?
Knowing what you can handle is also important. I know that I can’t handle more than five classes, and other people can. I know that I do better with reading and writing courses than those with experiments and math and other people die at the idea of writing twenty-page stories for fun. Knowing yourself helps you pick the classes that are right for you, but don’t be afraid to discover new things either. College is a time to grow as a person, as a learner, and to develop the skills and knowledge for what you’d like to do.
So have fun, study enough, and pick the classes the speak to you and your degree.