Sunday, November 9, 2014

Planning Your Semester Schedule

Hello all!
It crept up faster than ever this semester: class registration for the Spring Semester!
Through the past couple of weeks, St. Mike's students have been looking through classes, deciding which they need to take, consulting with their advisors, and registering.
For any given student, there may be several different reasons why he or she has picked certain classes, depending on what their major is, if they have any minors they want to pursue, what liberal studies requirements they still need to take, etc.
But before I get into these essential things that you need to keep in mind when registering for classes at St. Mike's, here are a few highlights from my week!

I just cannot wait till these red leaves get coated in a thick layer of snow for the first time this season!

 We did get a bit of a flurry the other day, even though it was mostly a slushy mix of rain and snow falling from the sky. Far from satisfactory. I for one am not counting it as the first snow of the season! Especially considering all it left on the red leaves were pitiful water droplets.

Arts and Crafts at their finest. Jared got a care package of 36 jumbo-sized Butterfingers as a pre-birthday treat from his mom, so we decided to take advantage of them before they all disappeared!

At last, the Church Street Mall's L.L. Bean finally opened this weekend! It's been months in the works. Before we elbowed our way into the store itself, we met up with the Bean Bear who was posing outside with other soon-to-be-shoppers. We got this picture while waiting in line for the Boot Toss: if you got at least one Bean Boot out of three into the target ahead, you got to spin a wheel for a prize! Lucky me, I got two into the target. So I spun the wheel and got it stuck in the "special slot", earning myself an L.L. Bean mini-Nalgene!

Since I wrote last, I published my final Lake Champlain research article to a blog dedicated to the project. (This was for my Environmental Journalism class, which is turning out to be my favorite class of the semester!) I had a lot of fun looking into a topic that I previously knew nothing about, talking to various sources, and learning different angles on the situation at hand.
Interested in reading? Check it out here!

Speaking of classes, it's time to get down to it!

Picking the four classes you'll take in the upcoming semester is a daunting task, I won't deny that. There are lots of components that go into which classes you'll aim to get into. But not to worry, I'm here to outline all of those components for you! And trust me, if we all figure it out every semester, you'll be able to as well! First thing's first...

1.) How Registration Works at St. Mike's

Towards the end of each semester, your advisor (who will be assigned to you from day one at St. Mike's) will send you an email reminding you to sign up for a meeting. Mine always has a sign-up sheet on his office door, and since I'm in that building all the time for my Media classes, I just sign up for a slot when I'm over there. During your advisor meeting, you two will likely discuss the classes you're currently taking, what you like or dislike about your professors, how you're doing grades-wise, and the classes you hope to take in the upcoming semester. From there, your advisor will be able to give you advice about professors that students have done well with in the past, getting your major requirements done, getting your liberal studies requirements done, and things of that nature. At the end of the meeting, your advisor will get onto his computer and clear you for registration. 

Not long after that, you'll get an email from the school assigning you a registration day. Each class has two registration days: senior days come first, then junior, then sophomore, then freshmen. But don't worry, only a certain number of spots in each class are opened for each registration day, so there's slim chance of a class filling up before you can get to it. And if worse comes to worse and there's no more space in a class you want to get into, you can always pick up a petition form to formally request a seat in that class. Everything always works out!

2.) Knightvision

Accessible through your MySMC portal, Knightvision covers everything academic. You have your schedule on there, your GPA, your current standing in completion of your major requirements and liberal studies requirements, and all that good stuff. Additionally, Knightvision is where you'll look up classes you'd like to take and register for them. You'll be able to see who teaches the class, what time it meets, any prerequisites it may require, and a general synopsis of what will be covered in the class. From there, you can load all your class choices into a queue in preparation for clicking "submit" on your assigned registration day.  

3.) Liberal Studies Requirements

While it'll be easy to keep up with which classes you'll need to take for your major each semester (typically your program will hand out an outlined plan with recommended classes to take each year), keeping up with your liberal studies requirements is more of a path you walk alone. But that doesn't mean it needs to be difficult! 

For those of you wondering what liberal studies requirements are, they're the general math, science, history, English, foreign language, humanities, arts, etc. classes that liberal studies schools like St. Mike's require students to take in addition to their major requirements. This ensures a well-rounded education.

Often times, however, people put them off because they don't want to distract themselves from their major. The way I look at it, however, is just get them done! It's far easier to get them out of the way as soon as you can, that way, when you're all done with them, all you need to focus on is your major! They also bring a nice variety to your schedule, which definitely isn't a bad thing!

4.) Back-ups

As you're looking at classes you want to take in preparation for registration, it's always a good idea to have a few back-ups in mind, especially if you think one of your preferred classes might be a little tough to get into (maybe it's a small class, a popular class, etc.). That way, if you don't end up getting into one of your preferred classes, and if you can't petition in, you don't have to worry about scrambling to find a substitute class amidst everything else going on in your current schedule.

5.) Keep YOU in Mind!

As you're scrambling to find classes you just need to get done, it can be easy to forget that these classes will be your weekday life next semester. Got five 8 AMs in a row lined up? That may be worth re-considering. Have all your classes lined up for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday only? Yeah, it might sound great now to have two days off in the middle of your week, but do you really want four classes back-to-back on days that you have them?  Do you really want to think up things to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays while all your friends are in class? Don't have any classes till noon? It's likely that you don't want to get stuck in that kind of sleep-cycle. The moral of the story is, classes aren't just checkpoints to cross off your To-Do list: they'll be your life in the upcoming semester! Don't forget that amidst all the planning.

Next semester, I'll be taking Media Law & Ethics in a Digital Age, Photojournalism, Philosophy of Society, and The Great (Fire) Wall (the Chinese culture class to prep for the trip in May!). 

I think it's going to be a great schedule, and I think they're all going to be really fun classes!
I'm excited to see what next semester brings.

Stay tuned next Sunday the 16th for more!


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