A Definitive Guide to Course Registration!

"When you make a choice, you change the future." -Deepak Chopra, Indian-American Author.


Welcome back or welcome to Adventures at Franklin! This week, I registered for courses at Franklin for the last time. Never again will I have to stress about whether there are enough spots on the travel I want to take, never again will I have to worry about sending permission requests to professors, and never again will I have to hope that Selfservice does not crash while registering. I'm coming to the end of my time at FUS, and I wanted to share some things I've learned throughout the years in regard to course registration. I've been a Academic Mentor twice and I had to design my own curriculum for my major. I hope those experiences mean that I have some knowledge of course registration ;)
However, first let's take a step back.

At FUS, every student needs at least 120 credits to graduate. Each class, with a passing grade, provides 3 credits. There are some exceptions but generally this is the norm. Students typically take 5 classes per semester. If you do the math, students obtain 15 credits per semester, and reach the 120 credits requirement by the end of the 8th semester (usually 4 years). If you have obtained credits before coming to Franklin, then obviously this timeline may change. I had credits before coming to Franklin, and thus am graduating in 7 semesters instead of the standard 8.
Anyways, there are 3 "categories" of credits you receive at university.
  1. Core requirement credits. Simply, the core requirements are a set of common courses considered necessary for an undergraduate degree. At FUS, the core requirements consist of a First Year Seminar, 4 Academic Travel classes, 4 writing intensive classes, a language up to the 300-level, 2 math classes, and several other classes. 
  2. Elective credits. I like to describe electives, as "the classes you take because why not?". Electives are a huge part of the liberal arts experience at Franklin. We encourage students to take classes outside their initial field of interest simply to see if they find the class interesting. It may spark a hidden talent or interest and lead to a future minor, double major, combined major etc. Even better, the elective class experience may cement what you enjoy, and what you may not enjoy. 
  3. Major/minor requirements. These are the classes you want to focus on. Every major (except for SJS) has a list of required classes and a list classes which can count towards the major. 
That brings us back to the topic of course registration, and my recommendations. 
  1. DO NOT BE LATE. Each student receives a time to register for classes based on credits already obtained and Dean's List status. For incoming freshmen, you are the last ones to register. I like to think of course registration as the start of The Hungergames. Everyone is at the cornucopia, just waiting for the signal to run to the center and grab what they can. In some cases (especially for freshmen), it may just be a case of grab what you can and deal with it. Therefore if you're late, you really get stuck with the leftovers. 
  2. Prioritize classes that will count towards your major/minor and the core, but remember that electives also contribute to graduation and can spark further interest. At first, the ideal scenario is to find a class which counts towards your major/minor and the core. However, the major requirements and core requirements are relatively easy to fulfill. Often students take classes and don't even realize that the class counts for something. Nonetheless, it is beneficial to know which classes count for what, as you don't want to be taking a course that you may not want to in your final semester just so you can fulfill your core requirements to graduate. If you have a slot for a class that doesn't count to the core or major/minor requirements, then select a class that seems interesting, because why not? ;) 
  3. Use your resources and or ask for help. At Franklin, there is a lot of help available. We use a platform called Selfservice which provides an Academic Plan option to see exactly what courses count towards what, and what courses you need to take for your major(s)/minor(s). I only discovered this feature in my 2nd year, and many current students are not aware of its existence, so ask your Advisors or Academic Mentors and they will gladly show you how it works. There is the Academic Catalog (which can be found online or as a physical book), which provides a description of every course and every major requirement. There is also a document on the Registrar's Moodle page which states the course rotation for each department, which can be helpful in making a plan. 
  4. Make sure you can take the class you are interested in. That means 2 things, firstly, make sure you have the pre-requisites or have received instructor permission. If you do not have either then you won't be able to register for that class. Secondly, make sure the class is your level. In your first semester, try to avoid 300-level classes unless it is a language class and you are fluent or close to fluent. 300 level courses are more difficult, usually require some knowledge of the topic beforehand, and are much more work. In your first semester, it's not impossible to do well in a 300 level course, but it's much easier to find success in 100/200 level classes. Find your footing first :) 
  5. Don't overwork yourself. As stated earlier, in your first semester, stick to 100/200 level courses and avoid 300-level courses. In your last semester, don't take 6 courses, with theses, internships and all 300-level courses. The workload at Franklin is very manageable, but don't overwork yourself. Make sure you have time to relax and be social.  
  6. You can still change your schedule if you need to. Perhaps you don't like the time of the class. Perhaps you don't like the professor. Perhaps you found a better alternate class. Do not worry, you can still swap your classes up until the end of the first week of classes, and you can still drop a course until a few weeks after midterms/travel. At the end of the day, your course schedule is the outline for your semester academically, but your choices do not have to be definitive.  
Those are my 2 cents on course registration at Franklin. I hope this was helpful regardless if you are an incoming freshman, or a seasoned Frankliner. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below. My next post will be the ultimate and updated guide to dorms, set for next weekend :) 

A presto,
Asa

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