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Top 10 things to consider before fall course enrollment

A list of tips for setting yourself up for success during course enrollment season

<p>Elizabeth Parsons is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Elizabeth Parsons is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.

With course enrollment for the fall semester quickly approaching, here are 10 ways to minimize the stress of enrollment by making sure you are as prepared as possible. Here’s to hoping that the Student Information System is on your side.

1. Ensure you are fulfilling your graduation requirements

While this might feel like the most mundane and obvious piece of advice, it feels necessary to note, considering the lackluster advising that is all too common at the University. Take a quick look at your SIS degree progress to figure out which general education requirements, major requirements and credit requirements you still need to fulfill before you browse courses. Creating a spreadsheet with the requirements you have fulfilled — and the ones you still need to complete — is my favorite way to stay organized before enrollment.

2. Lou’s List and Coursicle are your best friends

I will forever live and die by Lou’s List. The ability to quickly look at classes away from the clunky interface of SIS saves my sanity during enrollment. Coursicle is similarly much more user-friendly than the schedule builder tool on SIS — I love being able to make sample schedules and easily make changes on the site. Spending time exploring options on Lou’s List and Coursicle is an essential first step in making enrollment decisions.

3. Use theCourseForum to your advantage

I didn’t know about theCourseForum — a student-run CIO — until after my first semester at the University, and I do not want anybody else to suffer in the same way. On the site, you can read reviews from students who have taken classes you are interested in, view the breakdown of grades students earned, see the hourly workload per class and read reviews about specific professors. While I do believe that all course and professor reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, these insights can be invaluable. I applaud the students who provide this resource.

4. Don’t underestimate the amount of time you need between classes

Enrolling in two classes back-to-back may not seem terrible, but the reality can be much different. Only having a five or 10-minute buffer between classes can mean sprinting across Grounds, which leaves no time to stay back after class to talk with your professor, and it certainly leaves little room for the possibility of your class running over time. Having more time in-between classes also allows time for a much-needed lunch break and time to study.

5. Is an 8 a.m. class really necessary? 

Unless you are a huge morning person or have a requirement to fulfill, think long and hard about enrolling in an 8 a.m. course. I consider myself somewhat of a morning person — or at least someone who would prefer an early morning over a late night — and I still felt the fatigue and dwindling motivation associated with an 8 a.m. class on Tuesdays and Thursdays last fall. Waking up when it is still dark to trudge over to class takes a healthy dose of self-discipline — especially on rainy mornings. Proceed with caution. 

6. Consider a course from a department unfamiliar to you

This is something I cannot emphasize enough — explore the breadth of course options that are available at the University. I know that once you are working on the requirements of your major it can be difficult to squeeze anything extra in, but I think exploring beyond your major is so important. Some of my favorite courses have been outside of my major — I am especially a fan of the anthropology, sociology and Women, Gender and Sexuality departments. 

7. Create a list of backup courses

I have my fingers-crossed that you get a spot in all your first-choice courses, but I know how rare this is. In the name of being prepared, make a list of back-up courses that fulfill your requirements and interest you. I do not think I have ever had a course enrollment where I got a spot in all of my number-one choices, but I can say that each semester has worked out just fine. Being prepared with some backups undeniably makes enrollment less nerve-wracking.

8. Make a plan for your enrollment appointment

Enrollment dates and times were posted Friday, so be sure to make note of what day and time you can start enrolling in courses. If your enrollment time occurs during one of your classes, make a plan to ensure you can jump onto SIS and take care of enrollment as soon as your appointment starts. I always set an alarm for about 10 minutes before my appointment, which gives me time to log onto SIS and get organized — avoiding a last minute scramble. 

9. Use department websites for more detailed information about courses

Some course descriptions can be limited on SIS and Lou’s List, so take a look at department websites for more detailed information. For example, the English department’s website offers detailed course descriptions, which often include information about the requirements for the course. You can even reach out to professors to inquire about a sample syllabus for the course in order to make a more informed enrollment decision.

10. At the end of the day, it is just one silly semester

Although I think it is important to be well-prepared for course enrollment, I also want to underscore that it is just one semester. The courses you take — or don’t take — will soon be a distant memory. Course enrollment can feel like a frenzied battle to simply secure a spot in one class, but it does not need to feel like a life-altering event. Instead, focus your attention on all the exciting possibilities for the next semester.

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