At a school like Berkeley, there are thousands of course offerings and tens of thousands of students clamoring to get into them. It’s a fight to the death. On top of having the classes you want, you have the classes you need, and you have a life you need to work around. Here are my top tips for getting the classes you want!
- Have a list of every class you need to graduate for your major(s) and minor(s) somewhere you can find it. This is ever prerequisite and requisite class you’ll need to finish your degree.
- Have a list of all the classes you want to take while you’re at your university.
- Be aware of your sign-up dates and phases. Have an alert in your calendar well ahead of time and for the moment your enrollment appointment opens up. It’s a dog eat dog competition to get your courses, so you need to be ready to hit “submit” on your class selections the second you’re able to.
- Understand what the phase restrictions are. Berkeley has multiple phases to try and give everyone a chance to get the classes they need. Sign up for your most critical classes in your first phase, and everything else can be secondary.
- Have all your classes and discussion sections in your cart ahead of time so you don’t need to waste time adding them when you’re submitting.
- Plan according to your degree requirements strengths, and weekends. Parce out your tough classes. For example, I only take one math class at a time because it’s a subject that needs a lot of my time and attention. I also ensure that I’m not mixing multiple really hard classes and getting overwhelmed. For example, I wouldn’t take multivariable calculus at the same time as organic chemistry. You want to make your courses balanced over your semesters to avoid an untimely death.
- Only take classes you’re interested in unless you absolutely have to. Most colleges have multiple ways to fulfill most aspects of a degree, so try to be creative and find the classes you’ll enjoy the most. It’s worth the extra research time on course catalogues to make the semester relatively enjoyable, and you’re spending a lot of money for every class you take. Make every dollar worth it.
- Know your schedule constrictions. For me, I tried to keep this semester’s Tuesdays and Thursdays pretty open because I wanted to have time available to work in my neuroscience lab during the week. I planned ahead for that and stacked my classes accordingly.
- Know your campus. If you have zero time between classes and one is over a mile away from the next, you may need to change up your plans.
- Know your biological clock. If you’re physically incapable of getting up early, do your best to avoid it. You won’t get much better at it, really. Similarly, if you’re a morning person and you like to have your afternoons free, plan accordingly. Sometimes an inconvenient time is unavoidable, but often times classes are offered at multiple times over several semesters.
- Understand the waitlist system. If you’re on a waitlist, go to the class until you’re enrolled. Professors aren’t inclined to add you to the roster if you missed the first few lectures. It’s sloppy, and if you do get in, you’re already behind the eight-ball.
- Have at least two backup options for every class. This sounds asinine, but there will be times where nothing you want is available, or if you’re completely unable to get into courses due to reserved seats or other restrictions.
- Be willing to drop classes or swap sections. You may get into a class that you’re excited about, only to find out you hate the professor or the material. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to drop it. That’s perfectly fine and expected. Just be sure you know about the drop deadlines for your school. If you’re in a discussion section and you don’t like who’s teaching you, swap sections as soon as you’re able so you can get acquainted with another T.A.
- Know that you can change things for the first few weeks. If part of your schedule really isn’t suiting you, fix it if at all possible.
- Academic and major advisors are there to help. Make an appointment if you have any questions, concerns, or changes you need assistance with.
I hope these tips help you nail your course sign-ups!