The four key factors in class registration


By Harsha Bellamkonda

The time has arrived for students to start registering for Spring 2016 classes.

Most freshmen weren’t very adept at scheduling Fall 2015 courses, and the effects have shown throughout this semester. It’s not our fault of course; we didn’t have any prior experience. However, we now have a general idea as to how our schedule translates to real life.

But there’s still more for both freshmen and upperclassmen to think about.

There are many factors we have to consider when picking classes. Obviously, we must take a few classes required for our major, but that’s not typically the difficult part. Choosing electives always seems to be the tricky bit.

Most students are influenced by four key features when adding electives: The difficulty of the class, the quality of the professor, their personal interest in the subject and how the course fits into their schedule. The ideal way to go about selecting electives is to strike a balance between these four features.

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    Many students believe an elective’s most important job is boosting their GPA, which in turn leads them to wanting their electives to be the easiest classes on campus. However, if you’re not even the slightest bit interested in what is being taught, the easiest class could potentially be hard for you.

    That’s why one of the most crucial aspects of choosing electives is making sure you’re actually somewhat interested in the subject. There’s no requirement for a burning passion, but moderate interest will go a long way in making a class feel much easier.

    Another strong influence on the perceived ease of a course is the professor. An excellent professor can make an inherently tough class feel easy, but a terrible one could make an interesting class seem boring.

    Many students rely on websites such as Rate My Professors, where they read reviews written by other students who have had that professor previously. While it’s sometimes a handy guide, it’s not a good idea to let the reviews on that website influence you too much. Many reviews are written by biased students or are too old to be taken without a grain of salt.

    A more reliable alternative would be to look into more trustworthy sources such as relatively unbiased students who have taken the course in question recently.

    While the above three features are equally essential, sometimes the final schedule takes precedence over all else. 8 AM classes are the bane of college students, and whether or not you’ve gone through them in high school, they are much more stressful and daunting in college.

    Everyone wants a perfect schedule, but the sad truth is that such a schedule is impossible for most people. However, that doesn’t mean students’ schedules don’t influence their preferred electives. How an elective fits into their existing schedule is a justifiably influential factor, but it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

    If a class is at a particularly terrible time, it’s probably better to not take it, especially if you know you might have trouble getting out of bed to attend it. But if it’s only an hour off from when you wanted it to be, it’s a good idea to hold on to it, especially if it has already ticked the other boxes.

    Although it’s hard to find harmony between the four features we look for in electives, we should strive for a balance. Neither one of the four should be a deal-breaker on its own.

    Even though you might have to compromise on one of them from time to time, if the other three are satisfactory you shouldn’t worry about it. The best way to choose electives is finding a middle ground between everything you want.

    Harsha is a freshman in Engineering.

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