By Jenna Moede
You applied. You spoke with your academic adviser. You received your degree plan. Now what!?
Now, I hope you feel fired up and ready to take your next steps as a college student.
As I’ve mentioned before, you need to make friends with your degree plan, and I mean best friends. It will guide you through every course, every semester and every year. I think that by the time I graduated, I could have recited mine from memory.
Your degree plan will lay out the whole college shebang for you. Even if you opt to start as undeclared, I still recommend you look at the different degree plans for each major you are considering.
First, you should see the number of credits needed to graduate. Most bachelor’s degrees will require at least 120 credit hours, but that can change depending on your major and school.
I had friend who studied graphic design and needed around 180 credits, but, because of that, the university didn’t permit her or other graphic design students to pursue a minor.
Watch out for this kind of university regulation, as it may change your plans. Hopefully, however, you’ve already ironed any issues out with your adviser.
Your plan should further break down credits into general and core classes.
You should see your generals broken down by subject like humanities, English and more. Those categories are then broken down by class.
Pay close attention to each sub category because it will explain how many credits you need for each general field. From there you can decide what classes interest you and how many you need to complete to fulfill the requirements.
I recommend starting with generals and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone with them. You can’t avoid generals so think of finishing them first as a win-win; you can put them behind you, and you can change your major if you decide to.
I wish I could go back to my first days of college and do it that way. So really think about your path.
You will see your core classes structured the same way as your generals so you can plan ahead. It should also list pre-requisites; however, you’ll find it worth your time to double check the listed prior requirements for each course.
At this point, form a plan. I highlighted the classes I wanted, and I planned a few back up courses as well, just in case my first choices had already filled up.
Now comes the exciting part of registering for your classes. The first time I registered on my own, I felt confident I would make a huge mess of it, but it turns out that beginners really can handle it without too much stress. That worked in my favor for sure!
You’ll want to locate the place in your online platform where it says register for courses. You will pick the semester, and from there you should dive right in.
You will see several ways to search for courses. You will probably see filters for field of study, level, starting date and course number. I always used the last option. It directed me right where I needed to go, and I liked the simplicity.
Now just select your courses and choose a starting date. Once you select your course, hit register, and you will see a list of all the classes you have registered for.
You usually will need to register one class at a time. If for any reason you don’t fit the required eligibility, the platform shouldn’t let you register.
That said, I once signed up for an upper level class on accident, and the system didn’t stop me. Luckily, I realized I hadn’t enrolled in the course I needed, and because I checked my own work, I avoided a huge headache right before classes started.
You shouldn’t find it too hard, but before you go overly register happy and put yourself in too many courses, consider what you want your course load to look like. Most times, six credits a semester means part-time and 12 or more equals full-time.
You need to discover the perfect balance for you between boring and overwhelming. A conservative course load always seems better for the first run out of the gate.
If you feel great after your first semester, you can always add classes next time around.
My first semester of college I completed 18 credits, but I found that I liked the classes and ended up taking 22 my next semester. You will learn what feels right; just give it a little time.
Once you finish registration, double check the dates of the classes and check your emails consistently until the classes start. Your university and professors will utilize email to communicate important class and registration information.
Take it all step by step and make a plan. Attacking college with a plan will help guide you through all the challenges ahead. If you make a mistake, don’t worry. My college road has seen a lot of bumps, but rather than call them mistakes, I prefer to refer to them as experience.