Whether you are an incoming freshman or a veteran Longhorn, registering for classes can be nerve-racking. While some things are unavoidable, like a class you want getting filled up before your registration time, you can definitely be prepared in many ways. These tips are going to help you do just that – be prepared!
1. Research your Professors/Instructors.
Always, always, always check RateMyProfessors for reviews about professors and courses before registering. Also, you can check the Course Instructor Surveys available on the UT website. Even if a professor doesn’t have a review on RateMyProfessors, he or she will probably have one on the above page. From this site, you can access old syllabi as well as CVs for instructors. It’s a gold mine! Additionally, if you take your GPA very seriously, you might want to look at Grade Distributions. Here, you’ll get a sense of how well students have done in those courses.
A good professor will make a course interesting and the semester will fly by. But a bad professor will ruin your GPA and/or waste your time for three hours every week for half a year. The quality of the instructor is a HUGE factor in the ultimate success of the course and your ability to learn well. This should be the biggest factor in your decision. You’re paying (some way or another) for classes, so you may as well get your money’s worth in terms of good instruction.
2. Consider your life.
We’re human. We aren’t wired to only wake up, go to class, do homework all night, and then go back to class. (Some professors forget that). Many of us work part-time or full-time during the school year. And even for those that don’t work, we all need time to sleep, to see our friends, to unwind and catch up on our personal hobbies.
You should always consider your outside interests when picking classes for your schedule. It’s okay to refuse to schedule classes before 10 am. If you aren’t a morning person and your schedule allows it, go for it! Get some extra sleep. If you do sign up for an 8 am, but know that you have a terrible time getting up in the morning – you’re just asking to be miserable for 16 weeks.
If you don’t ever want to take a Friday class—same thing. Live the dream while you can (there’s much less picking and choosing once you join the workforce).
If you are committed to working or interning somewhere Monday-Wednesday-Friday and you are committed to only taking Tuesday-Thursday classes, that’s awesome. Do your thing! But your test days are going to suuuuuck (just a heads up).
The point is, pick the schedule that best suits your lifestyle.
3. Check cross-listed courses if a class is full.
If there is a class that you absolutely need to take and it is full, check to see if that course is cross-listed under another field of study. Sometimes you might not be able to register under the unique number for one of the classes you need as one discipline, but you are able to under another.
For example, the course Government 328L, titled “Introduction to Latin American Politics and Government” is cross-listed as Latin American Studies 337M. The class will count as either credit, it’s just a matter of getting in. Maybe if the Government one is full you might be able to get into the Latin American Studies one.
Once you are in the class, it’ll be a simple matter of talking to your professor. They are always happy to help.
4. Use the waitlist!
The waitlist system for classes at UT is awesome. If a class is full, you may have the option of joining the list of students waiting for an open seat in the class. Your order is determined by how quickly you get your name on the list, and your spot in line is shown as a fraction—with the denominator showing the number of people on the waitlist.
If you are at the top of a waitlist, you will almost certainly get into the class. (There is a lot of turnover in courses at UT). If you are passionate about taking a course, it is almost always in your best interest to sign up for a waitlist and see what happens.
Maybe you couldn’t get into the Introductory Chemistry class taught by the only professor you wanted in the department or maybe the only UGS class that sounded remotely interesting didn’t fit into your schedule.
That might happen. It’s just a side effect of going to a school with almost 40,000 undergrads.
But thankfully, because we go to such a large school, there are always going to be good opportunities available, regardless of how bleak the situation may seem. If you don’t get into that one class you wanted this semester, take it next time it comes around! Look for another class that might interest you. There is something for you in the depths of the course schedule.
And remember, there’s always the add-drop period. Use it well.
Happy registration, Longhorns! Hook’em!