By Kimmie Smith
Congratulations on enrolling in your first year of college. But before you can start attending classes, you must choose a class schedule.
Generally, a variety of materials are sent to you shortly after you have confirmed your place in the college. One of the most important notices will come from the Advisors or Admissions office. In most cases you will obtain a Schedule of Classes or Bulletin which outlines the courses offered by the university, their times, descriptions and dates. This Bulletin will include all the courses offered to you divided by departments known as 'Colleges' or 'Schools'. For instance at X University, there is a School of Business, School of Arts and Science, School of Health and Education, etc. It is these schools that will reflect your majors and concentrations.
Regardless of the school's size and course offerings, the task of choosing what your first semester's course load can be daunting. This is why you are generally provided with this book prior to choosing your classes and why you are assigned a Counselor or Advisor. To utilize this meeting (and every one after the first encounter) here are five simple ways to come in as prepared as possible and to relieve any apprehension you may feel in discussing your future with them.
In the Beginning, Your High School Transcript Matters
While in high school, you have already begun to operate in preparation for your college career. Generally you have to graduate with a certain number of credits. These courses would be labeled as accelerated, honors, college prep, etc. This can translate to entering college with an advantage. By taking Algebra 7/8X, you may have fulfilled a basic Algebra requirement. This transcript will be received by your college advisor to decide what courses you may be exempt from or advance into. Your bulletin may also go over how high school courses can be used towards college; however, it is best to discuss this with your advisor so that you are on track for completion of your major.
Whether You Know Your Major or Not, There Are Always Required Courses
As a quick side note, the lack of choosing a major does not reflect on you poorly. Knowing your major doesn't mean that you will never change it. Fortunately, most schools require that students take a series of courses including foreign language, humanities (which includes philosophy, literature, etc), sciences (biology, sociology, psychology), math and a myriad of electives. Generally, whatever majors you choose, there are a certain number of the above courses that you's have to take to apple and/or work towards the major. These fundamental courses will start your collegiate career; therefore, it creates less pressure to choose a major while allowing you to explore your interests. These courses tend to be entry pre-requisites that cover broad topics.
The Importance Of A Mock Schedule
These bulletins show you what day/time you're selected course is offered. In addition, many schools include the day of the final exam with it's time. Prior to visiting the advisor you can see what your typical day will look like. Keep in mind that each course will offer 'Office Hours' where you can meet with your professor to ask questions and that you will need to set times that you are most comfortable with getting homework done. Finally you may have a job or other commitments that will be built into your schedule.
Taking Your Time
This will probably be the first time that you have had so much control over your schedule. With all the courses, descriptions, etc - this will not take ten minutes. You will be getting acquainted with the policies, college structure and judging your own selections. It is now advised to meet with your advisor with little to no knowledge about the bulletin or what your interests are. In addition, when you're writing down courses don't be surprised that you have more classes than time. Although the allotment of course credit differs, freshman are generally advised to take a minimum of four courses a semester with a maximum of five. It is believed that the first year of college is such a transition in itself that large course loads may overwhelm students. Keep this list in case you may have to choose alternates for courses that may be closed.
Getting to Know Your Advisor
Typically, people are apprehensive to sit and select courses with their advisors because they feel overwhelmed by the bulletin, may not have read it, etc.In this first meeting, there tends to be an advisor designated for freshman (generally when you are in your second semester of this year you enter the college of your major and will receive an advisor that presides over the specific major - thus he/she will assist you to graduation) who will focus on courses that most freshman take. He/she will have your file which will include your transcript. Build a rapport by explaining that out of the courses most freshman take, you are interested in particular ones. By mentioning these courses by their assigned number which identifies the exact course by date and time, you begin to build your schedule and make it quicker and easier. People love to work with those who take initiative and are more likely to remember you and can talk to on a first name basis.
Feel free during the year to pop in and say hi to your advisor. If you have questions about certain majors she can offer free seminars that may help you decide on what works best for you. These one-on-one sessions allow you to build a relationship that will extend beyond your freshman year in many cases. This is invaluable if there are limited seats for next semester's courses and he/she is able to authorize you, if you are in need of recommendations, internship opportunities and additional interests. Apprehension occurs in new situations. These feelings fade when you become proactive and take the initiative by working through the material (or at least reading it). You will find people are motivated to spend extra time or go out of the way when they see you have taken yourself seriously.
By following these easy steps you will be on your way to creating a positive relationship while learning how to maneuver through your college career.
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