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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Early registration: students need not worry

Published: November 7, 2014
Section: Opinions

Early registration for next semester has started, and as always, students have been stressing about making it into the more popular classes or trying to figure out which classes they will actually take. With students sneaking out of class at their appointment times and the general angst in the air about needing consent codes from professors, early registration has certainly consumed campus life. And of course, the academic advisors have been busy helping students figure out their schedules. The drop-in appointments have filled rapidly and if you try to schedule an appointment with your academic advisor, you’ll find that they’re completely booked for the week.

Of course, students are bound to agonize over their courses for the spring, especially if they are still undecided on their major and want to figure out how to fulfill all of the requirements, both the general university requirements and for a future major. Yet we always seem to overstress when it comes to registration in a way that’s pretty unnecessary. It’s perfectly reasonable to worry about making it into a class if you have a later appointment time, but to be unsure of what classes to take to begin with seems ludicrous to me.

Talking to friends and classmates, it seems like some are just completely undecided on what classes to take for the next semester and elect to visit their academic advisors to help plan out their schedule. The benefits of this, however, remain unclear. Whenever I have met with an academic advisor, while not for picking classes, the experience mostly revolves around the advisor listing out policies for a question I have that can easily be found on the school’s website. I always leave wondering if it was even necessary for me to waste my, as well as the advisor’s, time. Though I mostly visit to just hear an authoritative voice give me a definite answer, the process of picking classes seems a bit too imaginative to warrant seeking help from an advisor.

I’m not trying to discredit the academic advisors at all; they are all extremely helpful, kind and knowledgable people who are sincerely trying their best to aid students. Yet I don’t think they can be much of a help to students as they pick classes beyond explaining to them the university requirements that, as I said before, can easily be found online. Picking classes is a completely preference-based process, based on what times you want to have class, what professors you want and what actual subjects you want to study. There isn’t that much advice that can be given from someone you might have only met a few times before.

Maybe my wariness of seeking help from an advisor is a result of my disaster of a high school guidance counselor. A man on the verge of retirement, he would take a two-hour lunch and was never be able to sit and talk with a student when they needed to, something that grew extremely frustrating when it came time to apply for colleges. Personally, I wound up taking the same class twice, even though I passed it the first time, due to a mistake by my guidance counselor. I wound up having to make sure my business was taken care of when it came time to register for classes or applying to colleges, because I simply couldn’t trust my guidance counselor to do his job. As a result, I became pretty independent with all these tasks.

That has since transferred over into my college experience, as I have found it much simpler to just browse the course list and map out my schedule myself instead of worrying about trying to make an appointment with my advisor. Plus, I like to think I am pretty much on top of all the different requirements I have to fill before I look to graduate—something I expect all students to be able to accomplish. There’s no real need to seek the help of an advisor when it is simply your choice on whatever classes you take.

Instead, students should seek advice from their friends on what classes to take and what professors are good and which ones are bad when it comes time to register. They should also be proactive in reaching out to the professors that are teaching the courses to ask any questions about what the class expectations are, something an academic advisor wouldn’t be able to answer. Beyond that, there are plenty of other resources available to students when it comes to picking classes. Roosevelt Fellows, actual students who have been through the stress of enrolling in classes on sage, offer the same advice that academic advisors do, but just from a student perspective. Faculty advisors are also much more helpful, especially as you try to pick classes to complete your major or minor in order to best prepare yourself to utilize your degree in the field you studied after graduating. UDRs for each department are always an email away from answering whatever questions you might have.

The university is great at providing resources to aid students in coordinating their time through college, and its great to be able to utilize them. But we’re also adults and have to realize that these resources aren’t always going to be there after we leave Brandeis, so it’s time to start taking personal responsibility and making decisions on our own. Picking four classes for a semester is not that difficult a task that we need someone to hold our hand. There won’t be that sort of advice when we make it out into the real world for when we go to buy a house or car. Sure, there are real estate agents and car salesmen whose job it is to facilitate the sale, but they are salespeople at heart and aren’t looking out for your best interests and can ultimately screw you over. Picking classes is probably the least stressful thing we do as students, particularly comparatively to actually taking the classes.