- Research your Professors/Instructors.
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. This should be the biggest factor in your decision, in my opinion. You’re paying to be there, so you may as well get your money’s worth in terms of good instruction.
- 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. (I think some of our professors have forgotten 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, and to unwind and just catch up on some good books and movies. 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 don’t ever want to take a Friday class—same thing. Live the dream while you can. (You have my blessing. And envy.)
If you are committed to working or interning somewhere Monday-Wednesday-Friday and you are committed to only taking Tuesday-Thursday classes that are awesome. But by all means pick the schedule that best suits your lifestyle
- Check cross-listed courses if a class is full.
If there is a class that you absolutely need to take and it is full, I recommend checking 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. Once you are in the class, it’ll be a simple matter of talking to your professor. They are always happy to help.
- 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 didn’t get the classes you wanted. Maybe you couldn’t get into the introductory Chemistry class taught by the only competent Professor in the department—*cough* Laude *cough*—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. I guarantee there is something for you in the depths of the course schedule.
Worst comes to worst, if you have any elective hours available for use, I recommend you use this opportunity to explore new interests. Take Russian or Arabic or Chinese! Or take a theatre course, if you have always been interested in theatre. You may not get another chance to learn these subjects in a classroom setting again. Take advantage of the opportunities available to you because you go to such a large, prestigious University.
Happy registration, Longhorns! Welcome back to school and Hook’em!