A Fresh View: Looking Ahead with Registration

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Hey! I’m Nicole Fleming and I’m a blogger for A Fresh View. I’m here to share with you some of my experiences as a first-year student, the ups and downs of my transition to college, and why Brown is the best place to be a freshman!

Alarm set for 7:45 a.m. Advising PIN written on a yellow Post-it note. Online shopping cart ready to go. This was the scene in my dorm room this past Tuesday night. Yep, I had something very important to prepare for: course registration for next year.

After two semesters of college, I already felt like a seasoned veteran when it comes to course registration. Even though I had to plan ahead a little (I really didn’t want to have to dig through hundreds of old emails to find my advising PIN as I was still half-asleep in the morning), there was virtually no stress involved. However, I definitely remember being stressed out about course registration over the past couple semesters. Everything about it – from selecting courses to actually hitting the “register cart” button on the registration website – seemed intimidating. I’m here to tell you about my experience with registration – and (hopefully) convince you that it’s nothing to be scared of.

By far the most intimidating part of my registration process was choosing classes. Brown offers hundreds of classes in dozens of departments. Awesome, right? The only problem is that, with so many course options, I always struggled to narrow down my choices. I wanted to take, well, basically everything – which led to the obvious issue of so many options, so little time.

One important thing to remember if you run into this issue is that, unlike at many other schools, registration for courses at Brown doesn’t actually limit you to the courses that you initially register for. That’s right – Brown has a shopping period, which means that students get to “shop” as many classes as they want for two weeks. This includes not only the four or five classes we register for (most people end up taking four, but there’s no harm in registering for five with the intent to drop one), but also any course that may be of interest. When I registered for classes before my freshman year, I had no idea how useful the shopping period would be. The shopping period was great because me the chance to alter lots of my registration decisions after checking out the course and professor. Knowing this for the future makes registration not seem as scary – registration isn’t a full-on commitment, it’s just a way to get you thinking about what classes you might be interested in.

Even though almost nothing is finalized after registration, I still always want to make sure I register for five classes I’m at least somewhat interested in – and it can be hard to narrow down the choices. The course descriptions on Brown’s registration website are helpful, but I also am sure to talk with my advisor and Meiklejohn peer advisor before registering. They often have lots of useful insider tips and advice about courses. In addition, talking with other students and reading reviews of courses and professors on Brown’s Critical Review website can also be helpful. It’s hard to know what a course will be like before shopping it, but as long as you register for a few good possibilities, it’s easy to figure everything out during shopping period.

After moving all my desired courses into my online registration shopping cart, I had to wait for my grade level’s assigned registration time. Then it’s just an easy click on the “register cart” box to complete the registration process. I won’t lie, sometimes this can be stressful. Because of course that happens to be the moment everyone loses WiFi or has their browser log out. Just remember – you will get registered, and those couple of seconds will end up being no big deal, especially after shopping period when everyone switches classes anyway. The same goes for a class being full. I’ve never had a problem getting into a class off a wait list. As long as you seem enthused and keep in contact with the professor, it’d be rare for things not to work out.

Registration can be a stressful time for many Brown students, especially during freshman year when everyone is new to the system. But, after learning the ropes, registration seems like no big deal. Plus, shopping period is when the real decisions about course selection are made. So, if you’ve heard horror stories about registration at other universities, don’t worry – Brown makes it easy. In fact, as this semester comes to a close, the most important thing registration does is not scare us, but make us excited for our classes next year.

I would love to chat if you have questions or just want to talk about Brown! Please email me at nicole_fleming@brown.edu.

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