CHANEL PALACIOS ’14
This week is advising week. Logic indicates that next week is when students pick their classes for next week. Oh boy, isn’t everyone excited? Every semester begins the race for the best classes, the best schedule, and the best professors. There are some things students should think about if they haven’t already.
First, your advisors are not some supreme entity that you should only speak to once a semester. While there are many advisors that are very unapproachable, it is very important for students to take an active role in speaking to their advisors. Advisors are extremely busy, so don’t be surprised when they don’t go out of their way to monitor your progress. That is your job as a student. If you have questions about what classes to take or what to do with your life, set up a meeting with your advisor. They aren’t psychic, and won’t know when you’re going through an academic crisis.
For freshmen and sophomores, your advisors are especially there for you. They are your first year seminar professors. They have had class with you. They know you better than you would like. They are there to guide you into your first years of college, before releasing you into the wild that will become your major and new advisor. Personally, I had a fantastic advisor for my first year and a half. (Shout out to Professor Gregory.) She helped me pick classes that I had to take outside my major, she scolded me when I wasn’t putting in enough effort, and she was excited for me whenever I accomplished something more than just showing up for class. So in my experience, I can say that your advisor as an underclassman will be the most approachable professor you encounter here. Of course there are students who didn’t particularly connect with their first advisors, and in that case bummer. You missed out, and I hope your new advisor can fulfill that void.
For juniors and seniors, you should be getting to know your advisor, or already have known them so much that they wish you would stop emailing them. If you don’t like your advisor, try someone else. You are supposed to be able to speak to your advisor about anything related to your academics or possibly future career, so if you can’t even tell your advisor about a class you want to take, something isn’t right. Once you find the right advisor, whether it be a professor you really liked or someone you only met once you declared but discovered how amazing they were, things should be a smooth ride. At that point, you just have to worry about what classes to take, and your advisor is there to share in that worry and excitement.
Next week it’ll be time to sign up for classes. Ideally, you’d have an idea of what you want to take beforehand, but if not then here are some words of wisdom. Don’t take more than two or three English classes in one semester. In other words, don’t take too many classes that are going toward your major. You will get sick of reading similar things over and over, and you will want a break. Everyone should take an easier class every semester, or a class outside their major that just seems interesting. I’m not telling students to take a class just because it’s easy and you can cruise through. It’s just better to have classes in different fields. You get to meet new people, and you keep yourself from viewing classes in your major as routine and typical. Don’t be in a little history bubble.
Everyone keeps in mind their actual schedule when signing up for classes. Please don’t be the kind of student that won’t take an interesting class just because it’s early in the morning or meets on a Friday. There are definitely professors who are worth going to that early class for, because you just can’t help but match their enthusiasm. That early morning class goes by a lot faster than an afternoon class that bores you out of your mind. Professors will appreciate that you have chosen to take this ridiculously early class, or at least my professors appreciate it. It shows a genuine interest in the class, and they’ll be more willing to help you on your paper topics or problem sets if they know that you are trying. The opposite end of the spectrum is night classes. I don’t recommend taking an 8:30 a.m. class and then also taking a night class. It isn’t ideal. It’s not impossible either, but eventually one class is going to get a lot less attention when all you can think about is the warm, comfy bed waiting for you.
Unfortunately for freshman, you get last pick. You may feel completely frustrated at your lack of choices when it comes to classes, but it’s the same system as with the house lottery, for better or worse. It’s based on seniority, and complaining to upperclassmen about it is just like complaining about puberty. Everyone goes through it, and this is the way of the land. You are more than welcome to leave a revolt to inspire change though. This isn’t to say that you won’t get what classes you want. Many spots are reserved specifically for freshman and sophomores, so have fun battling it out with your classmates. Just remember to talk to your advisor first, because if you don’t do so this week then you’ll have a hold and you won’t be able to get any of the classes that you want.
As everyone meets with their advisors and chooses classes, kind in mind your capabilities and be realistic. If you aren’t going to be interested in a class, don’t take it just for the schedule. Remember that your advisors are full of rafiki-like wisdom, and talking to them can only help. Happy hunting everyone.