Course registration can be a stressful time for anyone. At Georgetown, pre-registration and registration completion can be especially stressful because some STEM classes are only offered in either the spring or fall semester. Here are some course registration tips from your friends at Stemme.
Who to talk to before you submit pre-registration. Don’t completely rely on your dean!
The courses you take next semester will ultimately be up to you, but that doesn’t mean that you should make the decision about which classes to take on your own. There are a lot of people on campus who can help you create a schedule that is not only enjoyable and interesting, but also is helpful in fulfilling major and general education requirements.
Your dean is a great first resource if you have no idea where to start, especially if you are are trying to get some of your general education requirements out of the way. Deans can work with you to figure out how to spread out your gen eds over the rest of your time at Georgetown, or how to get them done as quickly as possible if that’s what you want. Additionally, if you’re interested in eventually applying to medical school, you can talk with the pre-med Dean about how best to fit in pre-med requirements with your major classes and general education requirements.
Your current professors are another fantastic resource for course specific information. If you love a class that you’re currently taking, talk to the professor and see if he or she teaches other classes, if he or she would recommend other professors who teach in a similar way, or if there are other classes in the department that would be a logical next step after your current coursework.
Lastly, upperclassmen (like your friends in Stemme!) are some of your best resources. Older students who have already gone through it can help you navigate course selection in your major, pre-med or pre-PhD requirements, and even gen eds. Older STEM majors can be very helpful in advising about which science classes shouldn’t be paired together, which professors teach best, and which gen eds seem fun but are actually a lot of work. In my experience, older STEM majors have been the most helpful in learning about how classes will be in terms of teaching style, work load and interest.
In general, it’s best to talk with as many people as possible to get suggestions from different viewpoints about your courses going forward. Ultimately, you should choose courses that you are excited to take next semester. If you’re not happy with your current courses, try something new this fall!
Why you should think twice before taking four science/math courses next semester.
At Georgetown, students can take a maximum of 20 credits each semester. While most (non-STEM) students take five 3-credit classes totalling 15 credits, STEM majors have to be more creative with their schedules as many science classes are 4 or 5 credits, leading STEM majors to contemplate taking 18 to 20 credits in one semester. If you’re planning on taking four science/math courses and nearly 20 credits, I would personally recommend that you really think it through for a couple reasons.
First, taking four science/math courses could feel a bit redundant. It’s often nice to have some variety in your schedule. Taking art, history, English or an elective just because it sounds fun is a great way to change up your schedule so you don’t get bored or burnt out. It’s also a great way to get some of your general education requirements taken care of so you don’t have to do them all at once.
Second, taking four science/math courses could force you to push most of your general education requirements to upperclassman years. As previously mentioned, it’s often nice to use gen eds as a break from your more rigorous science courses. Additionally, as your courses get more specialized and major-specific in your upperclassman years, it’s sometimes a hassle to have a lot of general requirements incomplete. Many people like to take fewer classes or be part time students at some point during senior year if possible, especially if they are applying to graduate or medical programs, so it’s sometimes a good idea to take gen eds along with your science courses in earlier years so you can have more control of your schedule in later on.
What to do when you’re staring at your pre-registration page and wondering if it’s done.
First, make sure that have chosen the correct section for each of the classes you want to take. It’s always a bummer when you realize that you accidently selected the 8 am orgo lab instead of the 1 pm.
Next, make sure that you have listed the courses in an order which you are happy with and which increases your chances of getting the classes you want most. If you have a class that you absolutely, positively MUST take, make sure to list it as your top choice. If you are interested in a small class, make sure to list that as your first or second choice to maximize your chances of getting one of the few spots available. If you’re signing up for a very large class or one in your major which you must be put in, you can probably list it as one of your last choices in order to help you get other classes you want as well.
Also, make sure that you have listed alternates that you would be happy to take. It’s very possible that you will not get all of the classes that you asked for during pre-registration. In this case, you may be put into some of your alternates, so make sure that these courses are equally of interest and equally helpful in fulfilling the requirements you wanted to finish that semester.
Lastly, remember that you can do registration completion if you don’t end up getting at least 12 credits for next semester. You can also do Add/Drop at the beginning of next semester if you haven’t gotten into the courses you want to take, or if you realize that one of the courses you selected is not for you. In short, there are a couple more chances to get the classes you want even if pre-registration does not go exactly as you planned!