You’ve all gotten emails with online registration instructions and most of you are probably eager to get your classes in order. Chances are you’ll see something that looks interesting and getting into the class will not be a problem, but here’s some information about the registration process and the whole Add/Drop period that you can use to maximize your options.
After registration week–that is, starting next monday–there is a 3 WEEK ADD/DROP period. During this time you can engage in the kinda stressful but kinda giddy practice of CLASS SHOPPING, which is very popular at U of C. Why stressful? For a couple of weeks, you have to pay close attention to what classes start when, and you’ll be trying to attend more classes than you’ll actually take once the quarter gets going. Why giddy? The same reason dating two people at once makes you feel cooler and more desirable than you actually are; you diversify your options, can (at least for a week or two) be fancy-free, noncommittal, and feel in control.
If you want to check out two classes that are scheduled for the same time, sign up for one officially and go to that one on the first day. Then go to the other class the next meeting. The juggling act may be a little awkward, but it’s possible. You can try emailing the second professor and letting them know very courteously that you’re interested in their course, but that you’re formally registered for another. See if you can get a copy of the syllabus. Get a reading on both professors to help you decide which class is for you. They know students shop around the first couple of weeks; students will be popping in and out for the first couple of meetings, and the totally full room you walk into on the first day of class is rarely an indication of how large the class will be when the Add/Drop period ends.
Sitting-in and Auditing
You can SIT-IN on classes, but you CANNOT AUDIT them. The difference between sitting-in and auditing exists only in the fantastical realm of paperwork, and do not become tangible unless/until someone prints out your transcript. So you’ll still learn as much, but you won’t be able to brag about it to other schools with institutional documentation. You can register for 3 Classes (and you should be automatically put into the MAPH core). If you try and register for more than three classes, you will confuse the computer and upset the delicate balance of your tuition. Trust us that you’ll have plenty to keep you busy with 3 classes. That said, sitting-in is a great option, especially if you see an interesting undergraduate course that you don’t want to use your graduate credits on. Professors who agree to let you sit-in on their classes may have different expectations: some may want you to contribute every class, some may want you to be quiet as church mouse; some may expect you to do the reading, some won’t know the difference if you read everything or nothing. But, when you sit-in on a class, make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Instructor CONSENT and classroom CAPACITY
Just as professors can make all-encompassing claims about human life that are seemingly under-supported by concrete evidence, they can also dictate the size of their classes without regard for your desires, the university time schedules, or even the state’s regulatory fire codes. If they want to let you into their class they will; if they don’t, they won’t. Don’t trust the class capacity numbers on the time schedules; even if they were updated in real-time (they aren’t) the professor still has the final word about who can be in their class. This goes for getting into classes that are filled to the brim and also classes you want to sit-in on. If a class is instructor consent only, register for a placeholder class until you get their consent. After that, you can get them to fill out an add/drop form.
Be DILIGENT and SOMEWHAT CRAFTY
Hunt through the time schedules and university websites of departments you never thought you’d be interested in. If you’re concentrating in English or Philosophy, look at Social Thought or Anthropology. Last year I wanted to read Tolstoy and learned at the last minute that there was a class that read Anna Karenina in the autumn quarter. What department was offering it? Slavic Literatures? Nope. English? Comp. Lit? Philosophy? No. It was a class about Romantic Love taught through Comparative Human Development. Be curious and look everywhere. If you can’t find the course descriptions on the department website, look for emails from the department, email the department and ask for course descriptions, or go there and ask a human person for a copy of them, printed out in a primitive analog form on processed tree matter.