6 o’Clock Shoes

October 19, 2012

Two of my friends and I went shopping for a very special occasion yesterday. We were on a mission to find a) amazing dresses and b) some kickass shoes. When the floor assistant asked what we were getting so dressed up for, my friend nonchalantly said, “dinner.”

The dinner is with a professor…my favorite professor of all time. Ask anyone that knows me–I want to grow up to be this woman. Her sense of fashion is impeccable, as is her taste in books and movies, and she’s just really good at teaching people. These are my goals in life.

The dinner was her idea. My friends and I helped her with a project for the department and as a thank you, she invited us out to eat. Immediately, we knew we had work to do. It’s not that we want to compete with her–such a thing is impossible. But we would like to at least keep up, y’know? The festivities will start at 6pm and we needed 6 o’clock shoes.

I’ve told some other friends about the outing, and they think it’s strange. I guess there’s something taboo about it because…it’s a professor. I mean, right now, you might not have a professor that you adore. Chances are, you can’t stand most of them. They’re professors–they’re a weird kind of authority figure and they’re the source of a lot of your stress. If you saw them at Wal-Mart, you’d probably turn the other way.

But here’s what’s even weirder. They might have a few years on you and a degree or too, but some of them are in your same age bracket. We’re all just a bunch of adults. And sometimes, that’s a good thing to keep in mind, because eventually, you might find a professor that you really like. And if you do, reminding yourself that they’re regular people too might persuade you to stop by their office. I have one friend who joins his Buddhism professor for tea every once in a while to talk about life. And this professor that we’re going to dinner with? She might be meeting up with us in Atlanta to see a Shakespeare play.

You never know who’s going to change your life. It could be your roommate or your classmate or someone you see on the bus every day. But it could also be your professor. Some (if not most) are quirky and eccentric. Some have so many degrees that they’re totally intolerable. But others are truly great people. Vats of knowledge. Invaluable networking contacts. Perhaps friends.

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If you’re reading this and you’re not a freshman, this isn’t your first rodeo. You’ve registered for classes before. But even so, there are things about the process that I didn’t learn until this and last year. But I need you slightly more experienced folks to hold tight…

First Time Registration- A Lingo Rundown

  • core classes/curriculum: these are the classes that everyone at CCU has to take. Your department doesn’t matter, your major doesn’t matter, your minor doesn’t matter. You have to get English credit, you have to get a science credit, etc. There’s no way around it. You usually want to get these out of the way early, because if your change your major later, they still count.
  • prerequisite: a class that you have to take before you can take another class…pretty straightforward. They’re not going to let you take an advanced accounting class before you’ve learned some basic statistics.
  • survey: these are general, usually first or second year classes. They cover long periods of time and often large regions or concepts. But they’re really helpful in narrowing down your interests. You may know that you like history, but an Early Western Civilization survey might introduce you to the Holy Roman Empire or a love of Charlemagne that you didn’t know you had.
  • lab: this doesn’t just concern the applied sciences. A lab is a (usually) single credit course that serves as a supplement to what you’re taking. I’ve seen these required for science, math, and the fine arts.
  • capstone: you shouldn’t have to worry about this yet. But it’s essentially that class that you’re working towards. It will be the culmination of all of your studies and you usually take it your senior year. Not every program requires it, but I’ve found that most do.

To some of you, registration will be exciting. If you’re really passionate about your program and your looking forward to getting into the meat of your courses, this is the time to prepare for it. You have the power now. You still need to get core classes and prerequisites out of the way, but maybe you can sneak a survey into your schedule. But whatever you do, make sure that you meet with your advisors and get there prepared. This is all you, now. If you want to graduate, you have to make sure you’re taking the right things.

As for all of you non-freshman, I encourage you to really take control. Your advisor is there to help and advise, but everything is ultimately up to you. Embrace it though…there will be few instances in life where you have this much say.

A Few Tips

  • Meet with your advisor as early as possible. At this point, they probably know the course catalog better than you. But if they’re a first year advisor, they’re SUPER busy and having to cover a lot of disciplines. The earlier you go, the less likely something will fall through the cracks.
  • Acquaint yourself with WebAdvisor’s registration process. At this point, there’s no way that you can register for a class, even accidentally, so don’t be afraid to click around. Create a preferred sections list and add all possible back up classes on it. Just make sure you don’t drop anything you’re taking right now…..
  • Be ready to register as soon as you possibly can. Your registration time is at 6am? Set an alarm. Classes fill up fast and when you’re a freshman, you get last pick. But that’s also why you have back-ups in your preferred sections list….
  • Use ratemyprofessors.com. It’s surprisingly accurate. There are some professors out there that write positive reviews of themselves. There are others that write negative reviews about themselves…(those are generally really great ones because they have twisted senses of humor.) But for the most part, it’s a reliable source. I find the “clarity” and “helpfulness” categories to be the most useful.
  • Double and triple check your course evaluation. Requirements for degrees change often, but no matter what, you’re required to do whatever the catalog said the year that you enrolled, so don’t let the changes freak you out. It just means that the freshman next year might be doing something differently than you did.
  • Don’t be afraid to switch advisors. When you become a sophomore, you’re usually paired with a permanent, program-specific advisor. But even so, it might not work. Take the English department for example. You might be interested in literature, but your advisor–a creative writing professor–keeps pushing you toward writing workshop classes. Get a handle on who the professors are in your department and which ones you like. You can usually talk to the chair of the department and ask if the professor you like is taking on advisees. I rarely hear of anyone being denied.
  • Make sure everything with your financial aid is copacetic. If you dropped a class this fall but your financial aid requires 30 credit hours a year, make sure you make up any lost ground when you register. And keep in mind that a “full-time” schedule is anything from 12-18 credit hours.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for favors. The biggest key is communicating with your advisor. If you start a good relationship now, they’ll become an irreplaceable resource later. You never know when you might need a recommendation letter.

I think that’s the gist of things. But if you have any questions, feel free to comment on this post or, better yet go ask your advisor.

Freshman Tips

October 5, 2012

Freshman Tips

I just found an excellent blog on Tumblr dedicated to answering all of your questions and concerns. Some personal favorites:

  • Don’t just love what you study. Study what you love.
  • Talk to your professors and TAs outside of class.
  • You don’t crash as hard from sugar-free Red Bull.
  • This is not high school. Getting good grades is the new cool.
  • Your roommate might not be your new best friend. That’s okay.
  • Lock your door.
  • If you’re struggling, ask for help.
  • Learn to cook something other than Ramen noodles.
  • There are plenty of activities on campus that don’t involve sex, drugs, or alcohol.