Kelly Coons ’20 | Assistant Opinions Editor
It’s the most “wonderful” time of the year. By “wonderful,” of course, I mean “stressful” because stress can make you do wondrous things. Yes, course registration season is upon us. There is one wondrous thing you can do, though, to reduce your stress. That wondrous thing is organization -- specifically, making a plan for that crazy morning. Most of you are already signed up, but you can always prepare for next semester. If you’re graduating, congratulations! Organization is still useful out there.
What exactly does “making a plan” mean? It’s more than just setting your alarm so that you’ll be awake at 7:30. Making a plan requires gathering information. While Smith’s course catalog can give you information about what classes are likely to still be around next year, I have found the Course
Search tool to be more useful. Command + F takes way too long to load in the course catalog. Course Search can subdivide classes by department, instructor, number of credits, distribution, level or keyword.
As a first-year (and not an Engineering major), I still have the luxury to marvel at the variety of classes Smith offers. But even for those of you who have declared your major, the Course Catalog still gives valuable information, like if the class you’re eyeing has multiple sections! Multiple sections are your friend. So are classes without an upper registration limit. I had two my first semester, and they made my first-ever course registration far less terrifying. (It was still terrifying.)
Your best friends, however, are those course registration numbers (CRNs). Make sure you have one for each class you want to register for. The last thing you want to be doing is combing through course search— or worse, the course catalog —looking for a CRN while precious spots are being eaten up.
Though, I have some advice that you may not have thought about.
First, take down more than just the CRNs of classes you are looking at. Write down the professor so you can ask around about them. Write down the location when it is posted so you arrive on time on the first day of class. Arriving on time can be the difference between keeping your spot and losing it. I think some of the most important information that not all Smith students take note of is the days and time a class meets. Keep track of those in a spreadsheet so that, if one of your classes fills up, you can easily search for something that is in the same time slot. This will help you minimize disruptions in your overall schedule.
Unfortunately, Course Search does not allow you to search by time slot, so it is up to you to create your own database! Fill your spreadsheet with the classes that you are interested in and/or need to take! As impressive as the variety that Smith offers is, it can be difficult to find what you’re looking for. At the very least, write down the name of each class next to its CRN! A CRN means a lot to a computer, but you are not a computer! Don’t torture yourself; don’t try to memorize what your CRNs mean!
Second, don’t be afraid to visualize your schedule. From apps to websites, there are numerous ways to make your schedule easier to process. A service called Coursicle even syncs to Smith’s catalog! Even if you are not a visual learner, it is much easier to see “holes” in your schedule when there are physical holes to see! To make yourself feel extra organized, tools like Coursicle even allow you to color code.
Lastly, don’t do it alone. No matter how much planning you do, BannerWeb is the epitome of Murphy’s Law: Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Maybe your adviser gave you the wrong registration code. Maybe BannerWeb isn’t loading on your browser. Maybe you need to learn a new way to register for classes. Whatever the case, it’s easier to work out problems — or just suffer together — with friends.
Keep these tips in mind for the next semester — they’ll make surviving course registration much easier.