Alas, another season of course descriptions, curriculum requirements and CRNs are upon us! Although the old undergrad worries of course caps and bad registration times may be a nightmare of the past…
…deciding which schedule to pick can still be a daunting task! Here are some quick tips to ensure you’ve picked the best set of classes for you:
1. Meet with your advisor
Take advantage of the opportunities to meet with your graduate advisor! Not only will you be speaking with someone who understands the curriculum requirements and necessities like the back of their hand, but also you will have the opportunity to discuss your interests and see what direction you want your coursework to go. You may go into an advising session thinking you’ve picked the ideal classes, only to realize you weren’t as interested in that Shakespearean Comedy course as you first thought. Meeting your advisor is a great opportunity for a conversation: you can collaborate to figure out what what requirements you’ve already met, which ones you still need to fulfill, and how you want to use those magical electives to your advantage.
2. Read through EACH course listing
Duh, thanks a lot Captain Obvious!
While this may seem like the most obvious tip ever, you’d be surprised to see how quickly a title can capture or deter someone from reading further. Don’t let titles be the deciding factor in your course selection. Reading through the course descriptions offers thorough descriptions of class content AND class texts, class format, etc. Before making any decisions, read through each course description and mark off which ones strike your interest, even if slightly.
3. Go outside your expectations/comfort zone
While it’s integral to have a clear sense of your interests and academic goals, coursework is a wonderful opportunity to broaden your horizons and give you the chance to encounter a wide range of disciplines, contexts, etc. that might first appear outside your immediate passions. When I first came to Lehigh, I had particular interests in postcolonial and feminist literature. As I looked through course descriptions before my first semester, there were two courses offered in those EXACT disciplines. I rushed to choose those two courses for the Fall, but, as I did so, I felt this urge to read beyond and see what else the department had to offer. In the end, I chose a Medieval Literature course focusing on the literary representations of miracles (religion has always been an interest of mine) and a Modernism course looking at psychoanalytic readings and applications to quintessential texts. Although these classes seemed outside my particular theoretical interests and time periods, I ended up gaining so much from reading texts outside of my comfort zone. I gained much more confidence working through difficult yet engaging pieces while expanding my critical interests.
4. Ask questions
What if none of the courses seem appealing to you? What if you want to take a course outside the department? What if you’re interested in an independent study? How can you possibly make those things work? You’ll never know until you start asking, right? If anything comes up during the selection process that you are uncertain about or want to know more about, ask around! Check in with graduate advisors, department heads, individual faculty members, or other students! If you want to take a class outside the department, go to your department head and ask! Have a conversation about why you feel the class would be helpful for your academic and professional goals. If nothing else, asking over and over strengthens your ability to articulate what you want while making connections between various members of your department and greater academic community. One of my favorite parts of being at Lehigh is the ease that I’ve been able to ask around and have honest conversations about my particular interests both in and beyond coursework.
Hopefully these tips, if not new, have been helpful reminders and stress relievers as you start to think about your work next semester. Good luck, and may the courses be ever in your favor!