Everyone goes about choosing his or her classes differently – unless you’re in the E-School, in which case the word “choosing” is an overstatement (at least for first-year). These rules generally relate to you kids in the College since we have so many choices, but the advice found here is applicable across schools. Here are the top five pieces of advice I can offer you as you make your way through the class selection process:
1. Ditch SIS. I understand this seems counter-intuitive. If you’re thinking, SIS is the website through which I do everything official so that’s what I use to sign-up for classes so I should also use it to find my classes! No. You would be mistaken. SIS is a nightmare-ish hell of navigation and indexes that no one should ever have to deal with unless they are forced. Use Lou’s List to help find classes and times.
2. Do Your Major Research. You might not know what you want to study yet, and that’s perfectly acceptable. It’s a decision you can procrastinate making until the end of your second year. However, you need to have some direction. If there’s a program or major you think may be right for you, make sure to incorporate some of the prerequisites in your first year so that you’re not loaded down with all your acceptance-determining classes in one semester or year.
3. Try to Avoid the 1010’s. It may seem natural to want to take a lot of introductory classes your first semester, and I understand that some tracks require these introductory classes as part of a progression. Yet in my experience, intro classes are so broad that you really just skim along the surface of the different facets of the subject. 2000 level classes are not much more difficult and offer much more in-depth analysis that I got more out of.
4. Do not take Elzinga’s Class First Semester. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Professor Elzinga’s microeconomics course is must-take for many UVA students, which means that the upperclassmen still sign up for it among the first-years. Waiting a year to take his class lets you adjust to college classes before being victim of the bell curve grading in a class of five hundred people. You also get a higher priority for discussion sign-up times. Win-win.
5. Treat Yo’self. Try to take a class every semester that is not required for your major or life trajectory. Whether it’s a subject that you’ve always been very curious about or a fantastic professor that you want to have the privilege of hearing lecture, just do it. UVA academics are incredible thinkers, plus you never know what department you’ll discover and fall in love with.