Navigating Complicated Course Catalog Listings

By Amanda Cohen on January 6, 2019

There is nothing more exciting than getting that e-mail from your university that says “Course catalog is now available: click here.” I know I sound nerdy, but it’s so fun searching through all of the classes you could take in the upcoming semester and creating the perfect class schedule. However, I know that the course catalog can be daunting: it truly epitomizes the saying, “So many options, so little time.”

After four years of undergraduate course catalog searching, and an upcoming two years of post-graduate course catalog searching, I have come up with a few ways to make the entire perusal process less overwhelming. There are so many things to consider. You need to make sure you meet all college-wide requirements and your major(s) and/or minor(s) requirements, while also enjoying what you’re taking. So, if you like to dive on in and want to embrace the chaos, kudos, but if you don’t, read on.

via Pexels.com

First and foremost, create a chart or list of all of your college-wide and major/minor requirements. Next to each category, write down the classes and the credit count for each class that you’ve already taken that have satisfied said requirements. After doing this, write down the number of credits you have left to fulfill each requirement. Lastly, when making a preliminary class list, categorize the potential courses in the correct category and cross-list them to see if they fulfill multiple requirements.

Once you make your preliminary list, schedule an appointment with your advisor so he/she can see if you’re on the right track. Well, since advisor appointments fill up quick during course-catalog time, make this appointment in advance. Many universities have similar lists curated every semester that can always be accessed, but if you’re like me, you like to do it yourself also to make sure the university didn’t make a mistake because they have so many students they have to do this for.

Now that you know what you need in order to graduate in good standing, start placing classes in each category. Most semester schedules (depending on where you’re at in school) are filled with anywhere between three and six classes. If you can’t afford to take a class that doesn’t fill any requirements, but sounds interesting, try to find a requirement-fulfilling course that peaks your interest (I promise you that it isn’t impossible). There is no reason why class has to be a chore: think about it.

If you chose a major and/or minor, you are interested in the subject matter so you will probably like most of the courses you take to fulfill those requirements. Next, college-wide requirements can be fulfilled with so many different classes. Don’t be lazy about course registration and find a class that sounds incredible, but also helps you graduate on time. When looking for these classes, set up a specific amount of time each day to break down the course catalog. Most colleges allow you to choose “advance search options” that enable you to narrow down potential courses based on the days/times they meet, the subject matter, the requirements they fulfill, and the prerequisites you need in order to take the class.

Image via Pixabay.com

If you’re like me, there are classes that sound interesting but aren’t worth many credits and fulfill a prerequisite that you already have completed, so what do you do when this happens? Make the time for this class. If it’s a class you love, then the homework won’t feel like actual work and won’t interfere too much with your regular academic schedule.

Another great way to fit in these classes is by knocking out all of your boring class requirements early in your college career so that your senior year is filled with those fun classes that you always wanted to take. My second semester senior year schedule was unreal and filled with some of my favorite classes because I took the time to explore the course catalog and I planned out my academic career well and utilized many resources (my advisor and my friends).

My last suggestion for finding some amazing classes that are interesting to you and/or fulfill a requirement is by created a Google Doc with your friends and having everyone post classes that they took in the past with the following information: (1) class name, (2) department, (3) requirements it fills, (4) credit count, (5) professor name, and (6) credit count. Utilize your university-provided resources and your friends who know the struggle.

In addition, ask people who are older and people who have the same major/minor as you. There is no reason why you have to deal with scheduling classes and breaking down the course catalog alone (unless you want to). Another great way to decide about a class is learning about the professor, because a good or bad professor can really make or break your experience in that class. Good luck with scheduling, my friends, I hope this helped you!

I am currently a junior at the University of Michigan.

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