Before you know it, it will be time for you to register for your Fall 2020 semester at Illinois. When registering for your classes, you should think about the core classes you need in order to fulfill major requirements, but you should also consider classes that interest you. Illinois has many classes to choose from that will help you explore your passions. Design a schedule that challenges you to think creatively. It’s not too early or too late to start planning.
We have asked several LAS departmental advisors for advice for students to think about when designing their Fall 2020 schedules.
Neil Baer – Department of Communication
1. Always run your DARS Audit. This is your blueprint for graduating. You want to ensure you are making progress on your general education and major requirements. Make note of the requirements you still need, if there are specific courses needed for your major, any sequenced classes, etc.
2. Use the Course Explorer to search for classes. I cannot stress enough how important it is to use the Course Explorer. We see a good number of students trying to do everything in self-service, which is inefficient. The Course Explorer gives you more information like attribute restrictions, when a class will open to non-majors, and allows you to search for specific attributes via the Search Feature. Bottomline: Use the Course Explorer.
3. Utilize the Plan Ahead feature in Enhanced Registration. This feature allows you to create up to five plans for the upcoming semester. Most important, it allows you to set up different course scenarios that can alleviate some of the stress that accompanies registration.
4. If your schedule allows you to have an elective class or two, talk to your friends and peers. Ask about courses they have taken. If you are thinking about a second major or minor, use these elective spots to try those subjects out. It’s important to fill out your schedule with courses that interest you instead of something that’s been rated as “easy.”
5. Once you’ve done the groundwork, meet with your academic advisor to go over your plans. It’s always good to run your plans by another person in case something was missed. Additionally, advisors can sometimes be aware of additional class options that are not obvious when searching the Course Explorer.
Stefan Djordjevic – Department of History
1. Students should take a look at Course Explorer before meeting with an advisor to finalize their schedules. It’s best if they have a couple of classes already picked out that we can use the nucleus around which to build their schedules. In majors with relatively flexible requirements (communication, history, English…) that helps ensure that the student will be able to fit in the class they’re most excited about; in majors that are more restrictive (mathematics, stats, MCB…) it at least allows the student and advisor to build out the schedule from the base of their mandatory courses.
2. I recommend that students think about courses not just as “what box does this class check off?” (whether it’s a gen. ed., elective, course in major) but rather “what kind of learning and skills do I want to develop and how will this class help me develop them?” I think the easiest part of registration and of college in general is figuring out how to check off proverbial boxes; it’s much more significant how and why students are progressing through their academic programs. Thinking about courses in terms of learning and skills outcomes helps the student connect to the material and in my opinion enriches their learning experience.
3. Choose classes based on your learning styles: some students excel in online courses, while others really struggle and just cannot get the hang of the format. You should try to tailor the courses you are taking as much as you can to your learning style and not just follow the talk of “this is a super easy class.” Yes, it might be a “super easy class” for someone – but absolutely no guarantee whether that someone is you!
4. Take advantage of the flexibility of many LAS majors to step out of your comfort zone in your class selection. I challenge students to pick at least one class a year (ideally one each semester!) about a subject or skill that interests them, but which they know next to nothing about. Stepping outside of their comfort zone is really important not just in terms of diversifying their skill sets and knowledge bases, but in terms of learning more about themselves as learners and about the world around them.
5. Don’t do it all alone! We departmental advisors are glad to help you plan your schedule and work with you to ensure that it fulfills not just academic needs but also helps your personal and professional development. Crowd-source your friends and if you find a really fun sounding class in astronomy (where you do star watching), theater, music, etc., invite a friend or two to take the class with you.
Gary Wszalek – Department of Psychology
1. Use the Course Explorer Schedule when registering. There is valuable information about restrictions, etc., that are not found in the self-service system. Save yourself time and frustration by checking the schedule before sending emails to departments. The answer may already be there.
2. Take time to explore the “menu” of classes that Illinois has to offer. There are outstanding classes in departments that you may not have ever considered.
3. Avoid Reddit and platforms that rate courses. Remember, who responds to those things? Students who loved the class or students who hated the class. The majority of students do not post things if it was OK/good.
4. Calculate your elective hours with your advisor. Students spend a lot of time checking off general education courses without realizing there can be an equal or greater number of elective courses (the courses you take when nobody is telling you what courses to take).
5. Take at least one class for you! Not for the tuition paying person in your life. It’s your one time to learn for the sake of learning. Broaden your horizons and go with a class that sounds cool.
Taking classes outside of your major puts a lot of variety into your schedule. This makes you more knowledgeable and versatile when it comes to different subjects and life topics. Your critical thinking skills will be enhanced, which will help with your problem solving skills and encourage you to be curious about different topics. When taking other classes that fuel your interests, it can open up another network. You get to meet new people from all different walks of life. It is important to be teachable and learn from those around you, so you can get the most out of any experience.