An epic poem should be written about registration. I remember my freshman year a group of gentlemen stayed up the whole night so that they could register first and get into all their classes. To this day, I am not sure why they could not set an alarm clock, but it was impressive at the time. In Rome, weeks before registration, students would strategize as to how to get the best internet connection to claim seats in popular sections of Lit Trad classes, which were bound to be picked up like tickets to a Taylor Swift concert. As we scout out local WiFi spots and practice typing course numbers into Banner Web at 200 words per minute, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Get feedback about the class — Find someone who has taken the class already and try to get a realistic idea of how much work is actually required. The difficulty varies by class but also by student; for some, a paper-heavy class is not so bad, but a syllabus filled with tests and quizzes might inflict a large amount of stress and study time. Because of the Core, we will eventually all take a variety of very different classes with very different requirements. Find an upperclassman who shares your major or study habits and ask for candid advice on spreading out classes throughout your academic career.
2. Start finding books now — Books are expensive. You do not want to buy them right after you have spent your last dollar on Christmas gifts for your, in all probability, numerous siblings and extended relations. Find people who have taken your classes and are willing to sell or lend you their books for the coming semester.
3. Do not fear being stuck — One of the first and best decisions I have made at the University of Dallas was switching out of my first randomly assigned Philosophy of Being class. After that, I found myself falling in love with the material and the concepts. While still very much not a philosopher, I am constantly using the principles and writers to whom my new professor introduced me to better understand my world. So, moral of the story: do not get stuck, especially if you are still working on the Core. Realize that registration is important, but if you return next January and find you do not work well with your professor, make sure you switch.
4. Choose by teacher — One day during the first week of a semester, a fellow senior and I were talking about a shared elective course we were taking. “If (blank) was teaching a course on cow anatomy I would probably take it, and so would everyone else in our class,” she joked. We laughed about it at the time, but looking back, the course this professor taught has been among the top five most transformational courses of my time here. A great teacher — and there are many great teachers here — can make any topic relevant, interesting and revolutionary. Professors who show a real interest in sharing the joy they themselves find in the topic earn your respect for their knowledge and opinion; their own interest becomes infectious, and you find yourself becoming your harshest critic and your greatest motivator to excel.