Preparing for Next Semester
While every campus uses a somewhat different process for scheduling of classes, there are some similarities that you might find useful. It’s about this time of the semester that students need to start thinking about classes for next semester. In this message, I hope I can give you some general understanding of the advisory process.
Here are some common aspects of advisors that you will find on nearly every campus:
- Advisor – Your student will be assigned an advisor. The advisor will guide your student through the scheduling process.
- Course Requirements – No matter the degree your student decides to pursue, there will be certain courses that need to be taken. In some cases, these requirements can be rather broad by specifying a range of courses rather than a specific course.
- Course Prerequisites – Some courses have other courses that need to precede it. In some cases, courses are restricted to majors and in other cases; courses are restricted to students of a certain rank (e.g. sophomore status).
- Access to Registration – Most campuses have a way to restrict access to registering until students have met with an advisor.
- Priority Date – On many campuses, students register by rank. Thus freshman will have the last choice of classes
When your student registers for classes, here are some questions they need to answer:
- How many credit hours should they take? Most students will take from 15-18 credit hours in a semester. The minimum credit hours are typically 12 and in most cases there will be a maximum on credit hours as will (typically 20). I always suggest that students take enough credit hours to allow them to be a full time student if they have to drop a class.
- How should students balance the difficulty level of their classes? I generally recommend that students take no more than two classes that are known to be difficult or very time consuming.
- What should students do if they may be getting a D or F in one or more of their current classes? My general advice is to repeat the course. Many campuses have a D/F repeat policy which allows a student to repeat a class and replace the second grade with the first.
- How should students pick times for classes? In most cases, students will have multiple options for class times. I think the students do best when they have compact schedules rather than spread out schedules. When students have lots of time between classes, they tend to waste time. When schedules are compact (limited time between classes), student tend to have a longer time period for getting their homework done.
- How should students select electives? There are several considerations in the choice of electives:
- Personal interests
- Chance of success in the course
- Fit with the major
- How do scholarships affect schedules? Many scholarships have minimal requirements for credit hour completion or GPA. Obviously students need to ensure their requirements are met.
There are a number of resources available to students when they do registration.
- RateMyProfessor.com – This is a website that gives ratings and candid comments on faculty.
- MyEdu.com – This is a website that gives grade distributions for different teachers.
- Other students – Students are often a great source of insight for scheduling.
I would caution you to play a supportive role but not an intrusive role in scheduling. Supportive means that you ask your students questions that relate to the above points. You become intrusive when you start interfering with the scheduling process by picking classes. I hope this has given you enough information about the scheduling process to make you a supporter of you student.
Let me close with the story of Tim. When Tim came to college, his experiences were minimal. He had grown up in a rural community where his cultural exposure was limited. Tim was brilliant. But he was backward.
When I had a chance to talk with Tim during our advisory meeting, I told him of my impression of him. I also explained how his backwardness was going to affect his career.
I had a book in my office with a collection of artworks that were in American museums. I suggested that Tim take the book to see if he could develop an interest beyond sports and cars.
I didn’t hear from Tim again until the start of the next semester. He came to my office to return the book. I asked him if he had a chance to look at the paintings. Tim had a huge smile on his face. Not only had he devoured the book, but he spent much of the semester break touring the country seeing the paintings for himself.
From that moment, Tim developed a range of cultural interests. He chose his electives to develop himself as a person.
By the time Tim was 35 years old, he was the chief executive of a major U.S. corporation. I’m convinced that it was cultural broadening that made the difference in Tim’s success.
It’s amazing how one small thing can make a difference. Often a course can influence an entire career..