It's 6:59 a.m. Beads of sweat form on your temples as your complexion turns red, flushed with fiery frustration; you feel your heart pounding through your chest – it knows that your whole future lies in the next 40 seconds. If Geneseo's Wi-Fi suddenly decides to stop working, so will your respiratory system. Our favorite time of year has rolled around once again, folks: registration.
Except for the freshmen, we've all experienced it. Waking up, or possibly staying up, to furiously copy and paste class registration numbers, crossing our fingers that the notorious red "X" won't appear after submitting – a very rare event if all goes well, often unheard of. The words accompanied by this "X" scream at you: "Class exceeded maximum," or "Prerequisites required," or, my personal favorite – "Over-exceeding credit hours." Realizing this "X" just denied you three classes, you go back to course offerings and see that every one of your classes that you need is either full or at a time in which you absolutely cannot fit. That's when the profanities start flowing out and eventually something or someone gets hurt. I usually go for the chair.
How can we avoid this early morning turmoil and wrath? Well, for a start – remember that registration is not the end of the world, let alone your college career. Changes can always be made and graduation will always – well, almost always – be achieved.
Don't let the initial registration be the final word. Are classes full? Talk to the professor immediately. Most professors understand that students need these classes to graduate and if you talk to them early enough, they will allow you to overload. If you were denied because of a lack of prerequisites but you do in fact have those prerequisites, talk to the department secretary and the professor with whom you took the course immediately. A lot of forms and a lot more hustling and bustling, but if you really want this class, you should be ready to work for it. Rather than complaining about the process, go out and do something about it; it's your future, not the professors'.
As for preparation for the big morning – start now. Classes for spring 2012 are on KnightWeb; find out which courses you need to take and note the times they're being offered. Meet with your advisor and let them, well, advise you. As much as we complain about them, they are there to help, and when it comes to the subjects in which they have Ph.D.s, they kind of know what they're talking about. You must go to an advisement meeting prepared; we all know that they love it when we ask them to pick our classes and majors for us.
Handwrite a list of the courses that you need for your major, minor, concentration, core requirements and also electives you'd like to take. Decide which of these classes you will want to take next semester, but don't limit the list to four or five. Pick around seven or eight classes that you could see yourself taking to avoid the inevitable disappointment that comes when you don't attain your perfect schedule. Be open-minded and don't limit yourself to classes with only the professors you know.
It will come and it will go. Take a deep breath and don't forget that everyone is in the same place you are. Express courtesy and sincerity to those you inquire after, particularly the registration office, and they will do their best to return the favor.