Imagine dragging yourself out of bed in the early morning, before the sun has poked its head above the horizon, and, with your laptop ready, watching the clock count down and waiting for the floodgates to open and unleash three to four minutes of Hunger Games-style panic and chaos. That is registration.
It is widely accepted that starting college is accompanied with heightened levels of stress. Course registration, however, has the potential to be the singular most stress-inducing event of a freshman’s first week. There is so much at stake in such a small window of time that just the idea of registration can be terrifying.
However daunting, registration is unfortunately unavoidable.
The most essential step to registration preparedness is research. Each semester, the College offers several hundred undergraduate courses, so, when planning the upcoming semester, students have a lot of information to sift through. Course offerings can be found on the official Course Catalog, the Open Course List, and on Banner under the “registration” tab. With factors like professor ratings, prerequisites and availability to consider when selecting classes, surviving registration is nearly impossible unless you’ve done your research well before registration day. The Open Course List provides continuously updated information on class availability, allowing students to see the seats available for desired classes and plan accordingly.
Even the best researched plan can go awry on registration day, however; so it is always advisable to have a backup plan and, if possible, a backup plan for that backup plan. Websites such as MyEdu can help you organize your classes and plot out possible schedules. Even though you may be dying to take that “Ethics for Aliens” seminar, registration is all about compromise, so stay flexible. If you first choice is full, don’t waste precious seconds moping. Take action and dive straight into your Plan B.
As the fated day moves closer, it is important to plan for every worst case scenario. Check Banner to ensure there are no holds on your account that would prevent registration. If there are, get them taken care of immediately by contacting the Registrar’s office. Set several alarms the night before to make sure there will be no sleeping in. Find a secure internet connection at all costs. Ethernet cables are the only way to guarantee a connection, as the Wi-Fi on campus is dubious even on good days. Those who gamble on wireless run the risk of dashing to the nearest academic building in their pajamas in an attempt to regain a signal moments before registration begins.
That being said, with the sudden influx of anxious students overloading the system at the same time, expect some technical difficulties or signal sluggishness. Once an add/drop request has been submitted, let the system do its job. It can be agonizing to wait, watching the loading symbol loop as the seconds tick by, but panicked clicking and refreshing will only cause more problems as the computer tries to process the request.
With every possible disaster short of a meteor crashing into the wireless router accounted for, the only thing left to do is to make sure you have all your course registration numbers (CRN’s) on hand and hope for the best as the countdown reaches zero.
As the dust settles after the battle, a well prepared student will often find that even the worst case scenario is really not that bad. Professors at the College understand the struggles of registration, so don’t be afraid to ask for an override code, which will allow you to register for a class that is technically full. A well written, flattering email to a professor detailing the reasons — both exaggerated and sincere — why you would be a good fit for their class will often do the trick. However, have possible emails drafted and ready to send out at a moment’s notice, because most professors grant overrides on a first come, first serve basis.
Although registration is undeniably harrowing, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone. Every freshman is suffering the same anxieties in that moment. Everyone is cursing at their computer screens as the website crashes or the best lab times fill up. Grab a group of hallmates and friends and go through the ordeal together. With the right group of people, registration day might even become one of those moments you look back on and laugh at down the line.