The key to successful class registration is research

Will Wetzel

With the conclusion of midterms, we are entering the second half of the fall semester. As we continue to maintain the success we had in our first semester, all of us will be faced with a similar situation—picking classes for next semester.

Despite the fact that we still have a long way to go in the fall semester, I am telling you that looking at the course offerings for next semester is incredibly important. The classes you choose can influence how well your semester goes. There are many important factors to keep in mind when you are choosing classes.

First of all, check out the Faculty CATS Reports. Not all of them are updated, and I could go on about how disappointing I think that is, but the ones that are updated can provide you with an idea of how the professor conducts his or her class. However, I would keep in mind that these reports are only good for a general consensus. If you see the majority of the students rate a professor unfavorably, you may want to look elsewhere. For the freshmen, this is important as you look to complete your core requirements. Since you have to take certain classes, do not make matters worse for yourself. For example, my advice is that if you are trying to complete your second ACS class, Philosophy 1000 or Theology 1000, I would put more of an emphasis on who is teaching the class. 

This leads me to my second point of advice. Unless it is a required class for your major, check out the professor who is teaching the class. Ask around and see if any of your friends took his or her class. Find out how the professor conducts class, how the grading is structured, how much work is given and how strict a grader the instructor is. 

There are two types of professors—teachers and researchers. Or, as another way to describe them, they are either teaching for the students or for academia. My advice to everyone is to go with student-friendly professors. Professors who prefer research over educating students tend to prioritize their research over their students, which means it is fair to expect that the class may not be run in a way that would prove beneficial to students. Despite Villanova being considered a teaching university, not all professors are fully committed to educating students. Therefore, I suggest to try and avoid these professors unless you really have to take them. Freshmen should be able to avoid more easily this type of professor since they are still taking their foundational classes and core requirements.

Upperclassmen, on the other hand, are either starting or in the middle of fulfilling major requirements. In each major, there are courses that are mandatory that must be taken. In these instances, it is almost certain that students will run into a couple terrible professors who would rather do research than teach. So, upperclassmen, do yourselves a huge favor and make life easy for yourselves. The remaining elective courses that you can fit into your schedule should be interesting and kind of fun. The last position you want to find yourself in is having your elective courses be as hard and miserable as your major classes. 

To find these classes, consider what you are interested in. For example, if you are interested in learning about government, take a look at the Political Science Department offerings. They have many options to choose from and many professors. Take a long look at the professors and how their classes are structured. All departments have many different professors. Find one who is passionate about the subject. Find one who likes teaching students. And find one who runs their class in a way that reduces the most stress. That’s the point of electives. They are meant to diversify your academic career, not make you wish you were somewhere else.

The last thing you want is to dislike your course schedule halfway through the semester. For example, I only have one, maybe two, courses that are tolerable. The rest of them I have to drag myself to. I made quite a few mistakes this semester in regards to my course schedule, and I want to make sure no one makes the same mistake I made. Do your research. It can potentially save you from much stress, misery and poor grades. 

So if you take anything from this article, listen to this: make sure there are at least three courses you can look forward to. If you have to grit your teeth and deal with one or two painful classes for the sake of your major, then so be it. Just make sure that your electives are not causing you any additional stress. We all know as college students that more stress is the last thing any of us need.