The Ultimate Guide to Registering for Classes

Registering for classes gives me about as much anxiety as midterms and finals combined, but I’ve come up with ten tips to help alleviate some of that stress and ensure that I get the schedule that I want.

1. Pick your classes based on professors, as much as you possibly can.

I cannot stress this enough. I understand that most of the time you are required to take a course for your major/minor. However, there may be several professors who teach this course at your school, and it may be worth waiting a semester for a better professor than suffering through a horrid one now. Check out to get peer reviews of many of the faculty members at your school. You can find out a lot of useful information such as their teaching style, how many tests they give, how harsh they grade, how helpful they are in office hours, the average student’s grade, etc.

2. Talk to upperclassmen in your field and get recommendations from them on what courses to take and with whom.

They’ve already been through what you’re dealing with now and can show you the ropes. A lot of people enjoy sharing their wisdom with others and will gladly offer their advice when asked. Bonus tip: This is also a great networking strategy to employ while at school so that when you graduate you already have established connections with people working in your field of business. (It could help you land a job!)

3. Talk to your advisor about their recommendations.

They know better than anyone what classes are offered each term in your intended field of study. They can also help you balance your course load so that you are not swamped with labs or take on too many writing classes at one time. Your academic advisor will also help you sign up for classes that will pull double duty: that is, to give you credit in your major or minor as well as in a gen ed field.

4. Prioritize classes that are only offered for the coming term over those offered every semester.

These can be more difficult to get into and may not come around as often. You want to ensure you get the chance to take the course while you still can.

5. If you get wait-listed, go talk to the professor to see if they’d be willing to let you into the class.

The answer may surprise you. Showing the initiative to go to a class that you’re not required to can pay off as many professors recognize and reward students for this dedication. Also, if people drop the class and you move off the wait-list, this will ensure you haven’t missed any assignments or important information.

6. Pick classes that interest you.

This can be hard as many students scramble to just fill their requirements. But think about it, you’re going to be stuck with this class for the next 3.5 months; make sure it’s one you will enjoy at least on some level. For example, if you don’t like a subject but are required to fulfill it, taking it with a professor who comes highly recommended can make a world of difference.

7. If you don’t get in this term, go sit in for a lecture or two to make sure you want to take the class in the future.

You might discover that this is not the class for you, and that you need to find an alternative.

8. Plan ahead.

If you know you want to study abroad at some point, work with your advisor to fit that into your schedule now, so there are no surprises down the line. Plan out all of your credits and talk to them about what courses you should take overseas. Most likely they’ll recommend saving up your gen eds, but if you go for a program related to your major, there may be classes you can take that will fulfill those requirements as well.

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9. Come up with a tentative four-year plan (depending on your degree) to ensure you graduate on time.

Figure out how many credits you need to take each semester, how many of those are gen eds, for your major/minor, or electives, and which classes fulfill these requirements. Also, many colleges have a minimum amount of credits you must earn to graduate (for example, Pitt’s is 120 credits), so make sure you meet that mark on time.

10. Have a list of several backup classes ready if you don’t get into the courses you want to take right away.

I suggest prioritizing those required for your major/minor as they may be in higher demand. If they are already full, then choose from a list of gen eds or electives that you know you also must satisfy before graduation as these tend to be easier to get into (especially for underclassmen).

Don’t stress too much if it doesn’t all work out like you hoped. There’s always time to make changes at the beginning of the semester during your school’s add/drop period (usually two weeks into the semester) because sometimes you just don’t know if a class is right for you until you go. Follow these useful tips, breathe, and it’ll all work out in the end!

Featured image source:


Catherine Roddy


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