Imagine your 19-year-old daughter walking into an enormous 10-story library. She chooses four books at random, and then walks up to the checkout desk and pays $25,000 for the chance to check them out.
It sounds unthinkable, but this is the exact method many students use to choose college classes.
Could there be a better, more clever, more strategic, more cost-effective way to make these important decisions? Yes.
In today’s post I’m giving students five ways they can make sure they’re choosing the best set of college classes for this coming fall, and for their eventual professional life.
Please share this post with everyone you know who has a kid registering for college classes this fall.
FOR STUDENTS: 5 Ways To Get the Best Possible Set of College Classes Every Time You Register
1. Student, this first step is the most critically important one. Start with the end in mind.
Has someone suggested that you just take random college classes for two years to see what you’re interested in? Your gut tells you that this this is terrible, bad advice, and it is. It’s the surest route to your taking a lot of expensive college classes that never add up to job skills or employability.
The far better, far more strategic plan is for you to take three assessments to clarify career goals before signing up for one single college class. You can find my detailed instructions on exactly how to do this by clicking here. If you’re pressed for time, read the blog post I wrote on this subject here.
Great side benefit of doing this: you can talk about this career goal in every one of your scholarship application essays. (You can see my exciting, motivating article on how to get more college scholarships regardless of your age here.)
2. Student, talk to your college advisor every single semester before you register for college classes.
When you meet with this advisor, say this: “I am heading for this particular career goal: _______. I want to graduate from college in four years or less. I understand that my ‘degree plan’ is a formal statement of all of the requirements I must complete in order to graduate from this college. Please help me look at my ‘degree plan’ and choose some classes that’ll get me to those goals as efficiently as possible.”
For extra credit, student, say to this to your college advisor each semester: “Could I take one or two of these classes in my degree plan at a community college for cheap while I’m home next summer, transfer the credit back here, and graduate faster?”
3. Student, when you do have the flexibility to choose any elective you want to, choose a class on a topic you’re already naturally good at.
You’re already a gifted public speaker? Take a speech class. You loved your time in the programming group of your high school robotics team? Take a programming class! Writing has always been your strong suit? Take an advanced writing class on a topic that appeals to you. Sure, the class will be easy and fun for you. Don’t shy away from it because of that. Your best eventual professional skills will come from noticing the things you’re naturally good at — and then stretching them with college level training.
4. Student, use the following genius strategy to get the best possible schedule of classes each and every semester.
Every time you register for college classes, sign up for one more class than you actually intend to take. If you plan to take 17 credits one semester, get special permission from your advisor and sign up for 20.
Then, when classes start, attend all the classes for the first week. Watch carefully to identify which class is the weakest. Is there one that requires 10 times as much work as the others? Is there one where the lectures are unclear, vacillating, disorganized, or delivered in an accent that nobody can understand? Is there one where the professor makes a habit of ridiculing and belittling students from the podium? These are reasons to pinpoint a course as “weak.”
After one week, walk down to the registrar’s office and “drop” the weakest course on your schedule BY THE “FREE ADD-DROP DATE.” Courses dropped by the “free add-drop date” won’t cost you anything, and no reference to them will appear on your academic transcript.
If you’re going to do this, though, it’s critically important that you mark the college’s “FREE ADD-DROP DATE” in your calendar the moment you register for that extra class. If you accidentally forget this important date and stay in the course beyond it, you’ll have to finish the unwanted course or have an unwanted “W” (for “withdrawal”) show up on your academic transcript.
5. Student, your first semester on campus, take the lightest load you possibly can while still remaining a “full time student.”
There are many new things to get accustomed to during your first semester on a new college campus. That’s just a fact. So ease in. Even if you were a high achiever in high school, don’t jump into a set of extraordinarily difficult courses your first semester.
Start slowly. Take just the “minimum” number of credits required to remain a full time student. If that magic number is 12, sign up for 15 credits at first — and then drop the weakest 3-credit class on your schedule before the “FREE ADD-DROP DATE” as I’ve described above.
Just be sure not to drop below the minimum number of credits to remain full time, or you’ll put all your financial aid at risk.
BONUS #6: Student, for more great ideas from me on how to succeed brilliantly in college, graduate completely debt-free, and move directly into a career you excel at and love — subscribe to my weekly email newsletter using the form on this website.
I’ll help your college experience to be more effective, more efficient, and less expensive — and I’ll help you to be ready to jump into a great job after you graduate.
Parents, I can give you free, clear, step-by-step help getting your kids through college debt-free. Get a jump on this now by requesting my free “QUICK START Guide” in the yellow stripe at the very top of this website. Once you’ve glanced through it, click on your child’s age in the “WHAT TO DO WHEN” section of this website . You’ll instantly feel hope that regardless of your present financial situation, you can get your kids through college debt-free.
This blog post is part 1 of a 2-part series. For a fantastic idea on how to choose college classes based on which professors on your college campus are thought to be the very best, subscribe to my weekly email newsletter using the form on this website. An article on that topic will be delivered straight to your email in-box on Monday, June 22nd.
What about you? What strategies have you heard of for getting a great set of classes each semester? Comment in the space below, or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook and let’s talk about it there. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @JBurlowski.