In a few weeks, us Badgers will be picking classes for this summer or, more likely, the fall semester. But, when picking classes, what should you consider? Us coordinators have compiled some tips of what we do and consider when choosing classes so we can stay-on-track, pick a class that we enjoy and works for us, and of course with a good professor and intriguing course content that may help you when choosing your own classes.
A great resource I use when picking between professors of a class is Rate My Professors. Professors are rated by their students on this site based on a variety of criteria and students often say how assignments are weighted, if a textbook is really necessary, if the class requires you to go to lecture, and most importantly how the professors teach. I’ve found it pretty accurate and definitely recommend you look up your professors on it prior to enrolling. (Also, consider contributing as well, and help other students pick their professors too.)
Try to make a schedule that is productive for you. If you focus best in the morning, try to get your more difficult lectures in the morning. Save classes that are a bit more laid back for times when you have more trouble focusing. In addition, if multiple lectures are offered for a given class, don’t schedule too many difficult classes for the same day. Having difficult classes spaced out helps you to stay focused and not get bogged down by the material.
One of the biggest factors I consider when enrolling in classes is the times that they meet. Most people have a preference between morning and afternoon classes, but it can make a big difference in how well you focus in class. After I learned that I do best in classes in the morning, I became much more productive and attentive. Consider the time you wake up, your work schedule, and what you do in the evenings. While it may be tempting to forego an 8am class to get an extra hour of sleep, you may find that you’re much more tired in the same course at 5pm instead. Overall, you’ll thank yourself when you have a class schedule that matches when you focus best.
For me personally, I would usually check DARS to see what classes I still need to take, particularly paying attention to some higher-level courses and their prerequisites. I would also check Rate My Professor and Madgrades for the courses I have in mind.
If I am not sure if I want to take a class or am worried about the workload, I would definitely go ask my friends and other students who have already taken it. It’s often helpful that way if the instructor is the same.
As a senior, one resource that has been beneficial when picking classes has been Madgrades. This website shows you the grade distribution of any course here at UW Madison. You can even filter the results by professor and/or semester. This will help you plan the difficulty of your load for the semester.
Written by Cole Navin
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*This is an opinion post based on personal experiences of the persons listed above.