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.

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Or can you…..?

What’s my age again?

September 28, 2012

This is going to sound more like a personal rant than anything I’ve written before. But I can guarantee perhaps a few nuggets of wisdom by the time you’ve finished reading.

Alright, so you’re in college. It’s time to find yourself (whatever that’s supposed to mean). You do the going to class thing, you do the parents’ weekend thing, you do the football games in the student section thing, you do the Greek life thing, you do the party scene thing, you do the drinking thing, you do the drunken pictures on Facebook thing.

Do it. I didn’t do it and I don’t regret it because it’s not me. Try as I might, I’m destined to be a bookish nerd, and that’s what makes me happy. Hell, it’s part of what makes me who I am. But not everyone’s like that and college, even more than teaching you how to write a resume, teaches you about yourself. So do it. I’m not even telling you that you have to be smart about. Be stupid about it. Don’t get in a car or get yourself or anyone else killed. Those sorts of actions are beyond stupid–they’re reckless and dangerous and there’s no good excuse for them. But be the drunk person that confesses all of his deep-seated feelings, if you want. Be the person that dances like Carlton Banks when you’re drunk. Be the person that swears up and down she can jump from that couch to that couch and stay on her feet. Be THAT person. I imagine it’ll teach you plenty about yourself and the friends around you. So do it.

But please, for the love of all that is good in this world, get it out of your system now. Because nobody likes you when you’re 23 and you still act like you’re in freshman year.

I’m not saying you can’t go out (or stay in) and have some drinks and a good time after college. You should! That’s what all of these regrettable nights were training you for…so that you don’t go out with some friends from your new job and ask for Everclear.

The only reason that Old School’s funny is because it was out of those guys’ nature. They grew up and then revisited it. If they’d been keg-standing all along, there’d be no movie.

So this is the voice of your future conscience. Live it up and get it out of your system.

As a cozy touch to our apartment, my roommate and I posted a white board on the wall of our living room for grocery lists and things like that. But I’m not much of a list person so I’ve taken to writing little quotations from books or poems or songs that I come across.

Unless you’ve slept through the last 48 hours, you know that we’re dealing with essentially a monsoon. Don’t quote me on that, because I’m not sure what a monsoon technically is. But judging by the knee-deep water in front of the library yesterday, the situation has passed beyond that of “scattered thunderstorms.” My own trek from Edwards to the Student Center had my mascara running down my face, my shoes filled with water, and my books in a dire, sopping state. So when I got home yesterday, soaked and cold, I got on my laptop to find a scathing quote about how wearisome rain can be; something that included words like “drowning” and “drenching” and maybe an expletive or two. Instead, I stumbled across something that likened rain to “silver liquid drops” and urged that you let it kiss you.

I stopped being irritated. I changed out of my wet clothes, found an oversized sweatshirt, made a cup of tea and reconsidered things. I had decided at the beginning of the day that just because it was raining, everything would likely be a disaster. I had a conversation with a friend that left me irritated and offended, but now that I was warming up, I realized he was trying to make me laugh. There was a girl in my afternoon class that kept making stupid, irrelevant comments, but in reality, her points weren’t wrong. My car didn’t stall out in the river-road. My books and clothes didn’t get ruined. I didn’t drown after all.

I made a similar post about this a month ago…y’know, attitude shifting? Now more than ever, I think that it’s key. I’m sure when you bragged about going to college at the beach, you didn’t have torrential rain in mind. Maybe your classes are harder or more boring or less relevant than you hoped they would be. Maybe you didn’t magically become best friends with your roommate.

But you made it through week one. It took me a year to feel like I was taking the right classes and doing the right thing. It took me three to find a roommate whose company I really enjoyed. And it took up until yesterday to embrace a little bit of rain.

As always, if you ever need anything, be it an opinion, a bit of advice, or someone to get dinner with, let me know. Leave a comment, we can get in touch. In the meantime, give it some time. It’s the morning after Monsoon 2012 and  while it’s still grey and cloudy out, most of the water has drained away.

The Olympics started less than 24 hours ago and I’ve not left my TV unattended since then. I woke up at 6:30 this morning, unintentionally, and couldn’t go back to sleep because the cycling road race was on and suddenly, nothing seemed more important than these men on bikes. Any other time of year, I don’t follow cycling. I don’t follow archery, but I watched the whole men’s teams’ competition. I don’t follow volleyball, but I’m currently on the edge of my seat to see if the women’s USA group can beat the South Korean team. Something about the Olympics gets me invested in all of these obscure competitions.

I’ve always loved watching sports and the Olympics have never been an exception. I remember watching the opening ceremonies in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, all from the comfort of my living room. But last night, as Mary Poppins was battling off Voldemort, I wasn’t thinking about how whimsical and weird the whole thing was. Rather, I was reading an article about how certain Canadian television channels had cut out the whole segment dedicated to Britain’s National Healthcare System. And then later, I found a 5-minute-long tribute to London’s 7/7 terrorist attack victims that NBC had cut out and replaced with a Michael Phelps interview. I’ve never been much into politics because I loathe controversy, but I was moved to see Saudi Arabia’s first female competitors walking proudly along the track. I was excited to know that Palestine had actually qualified for an event and earned their inclusion. I was inspired to see countries that were sending two or three athletes grinning with pride. 

So how does this relate in any way to college? To you?

I don’t recall caring so much about the parade of nations in 2004 or 2008. I didn’t take interest in the stories of smaller countries and lesser athletes. I just wanted to root for USA and maybe an Australian or two. But this go around, I feel more aware and I can’t help but think that college has had something to do with that. I care more about the rest of the world. It seems silly to reduce the feeling to something so small, but it’s the truth. I’ve met people from all around the world here at Coastal. I’ve learned about the countries and cities and villages that they call home and I’ve found myself genuinely caring. I’ve been told about injustices and discriminations until I started to sympathize and want to take action.

You see, you can go to your classes every day and earn an A on every test. You can make the Dean’s and the President’s list every semester. As a self-attesting nerd, I’ve operated by these rules for the past three years. But even so, the more important things I’ve learned didn’t come from a book or a study guide. The greatest wealth of knowledge resides in the people around you. Make sure you go out and find them and I guarantee, it’ll be time well spent. You’ll see your whole world open up.