I firmly believe that no matter how many times I have done it, registering for classes is a stressful experience. No scheduling experience is complete without those hours spent meticulously creating the perfect schedule and those next couple of hours spent stressing and watching it slip away as classes fill up or close. Scheduling, like most things in life, is a perspective thing. Although in the moment, I might tell myself that nothing is working and that I will have the worst schedule in the world, it always seems to work out.
While there has always been some level of stress registering for my classes, one of the most daunting was during orientation before my freshman year. I was new to USC, new to our registering platform, and desperately trying to avoid making a “fatal scheduling mistake.” I now realize this “mistake” really does not exist. Because orientation is different this year, I thought I’d talk about my freshman first semester schedule and give some tips and tricks I have learned about registering for classes. Although this is a schedule for a typical biomedical engineer, all engineering students have very similar schedules their first semester regardless of their specific major.
From my experience, freshman engineers will spend their first semester typically taking a calculus course, a general science, the intro course for their major, WRIT 150 or a general seminar, and Engineering Freshman Academy. My first semester I took Calculus 2, Chem 105a, BME 101, a general seminar, and Engineering Freshman Academy. Many engineering majors like BME and ChemE are required to take general chemistry (CHEM 105a) but other engineering majors are allowed to take Material Science instead. Also, the Calculus class you take is dependent on prior coursework/AP scores. WRIT 150 and General Seminars (GESM) are interchangeable so you will take one first semester and one second semester. I took a general seminar called Language, Literature, and Law with Dr. Sandra Disner. Although I picked it because it was the only open GESM that fit in my schedule, it was one of my favorite classes at USC so far! It was a linguistic course with CSI/ Criminal Minds vibes where we looked at how the words one says determines if one receives their rights or not. SUPER COOL!
One thing I wish I would have known before I scheduled is that it really does not take long to get from class to class. Having 5 minute passing periods in high school, I was concerned that scheduling my classes 10 minutes apart wasn’t enough time to get to class, especially considering I didn’t have a bike. In reality, our campus is super convenient and I have never had a walk longer than 10 minutes! I found that I work best when I schedule my classes early and back to back. Personally, I find it difficult to be super productive in awkward 30 minute to 1.5 hour breaks so I try to minimize that by packing in my schedule. This is totally my preference! I know lots of people that like to spread their classes out or start later in the day!
My final piece of advice is to make sure you schedule breaks for food in your schedule. There is nothing worse than being in class all day and straight through a meal time. Sometimes breaking up your schedule is worth avoiding those classes where you are so hungry that all you can focus on is what you are going to eat after.
When scheduling … KNOW YOURSELF! There is no right/wrong way to do it!!
I hope these tips are helpful to incoming freshmen and make the registration process a little more comfortable. Trust me, it will get easier over time!
Hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy!!