Andrew Guyton's Blog

Every time one semester begins to end and it comes time to register for the next, I have a particular system that I use to determine my schedule for the next one. I’ll list what classes I’m looking at and solicit feedback, both on the system and the classes/professors in question.

First, it’s important to know what classes I need to take to graduate, and to create a list. When I was earlier in my degree, it was also important to consider which classes were prerequisites to which. The College of Computing has a handy list on their website. First, the core requirements are always good to have a look at; if you can knock out any of those, they’ll count if you switch majors, threads, et cetera. I always like to take at least one core req each semester if I can.

The next step in compiling your list of potentials depends on which path you’re on. If you’re on the “old system” (pre-threads) then go here to see the relevant “course plan.” If you are on threads, a study plan for your combination of threads is available here. For examining threads, I find their description pages to be relatively useful.

Now that you’ve got a list of potential classes (and for those of you on the old system, I recommend glancing at a couple threads – you may be closer to graduation that you realize), write it out simply. For example, I have this in a text file:

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
MATH 3215 – Prob/stat
LCC 3401 – Technical writing
CS 4980 Research Project or CS 4911 Studio Project

OLD SYSTEM
CS 2200 – Assembly/C
CS 3510 – Algorithms
CS 3240 – Languages and Computation

PEOPLE THREAD
PSYC2015 – Research Methods and Practices
PSYC2210 – Social Psychology
CS3790 – Introduction to Cognitive Science
+ electives?

THEORY THREAD
CS3510 – Algorithms
MATH4032 – Combinatorial Analysis
CS3240 Languages and Computation OR CS4510 Automata and Complexity Theory
MATH4640 Numerical Analysis OR MATH4305 Topics in Linear Algebra
+ electives?

You know how many hours you’d like to take in a semester, so now that I’ve compiled this list, you now have to pare it down to what you’d like to take this semester. Obviously, the core requirements are more important, so I’ll add all of those to my priority list. Algorithms is in both the old system and the Theory thread, so it’s probably important as well. To round out my list of potentials, I’ll toss in CS 3240 (Languages and Computation), CS3790 (Intro to Cognitive Science), and PSYC2210 (Social Psychology) as they might fill in my schedule better than some of the core classes may. At this point you should also consult the prerequisite chart as it may limit what you can take. A class higher up the prereq food chain should be taken earlier on to broaden your options later in your degree.

My short list is now the following:

PROPOSED FALL SCHEDULE
MATH 3215 OR MATH/ISYE/CE 3770 – Prob/stat
LCC 3401 – Technical writing
CS 3510 – Algorithms
CS 4980 Research Project or CS 4911 Studio Project
OTHER POSSIBLE CLASSES
CS 3240 – Languages and Computation
CS3790 – Introduction to Cognitive Science
PSYC2210 – Social Psychology

At this point I like to fire up my favorite calendar application; I am most experienced with MS Outlook and Google Calendar, although I am sure others will work just as well. I like to go to OSCAR and look up all of the available times for each of the classes on my list and put them all on a calendar. I find using different colors important; in Google, this means using multiple calendars, and in Outlook this simply means changing the category for the event.

It is also at this time that you may wish to compile a list of available professors and ask around to your friends/mentors/advisors about them. They may not know, or they may have strong opinions on a professor. You should also check SGA Course Critique for class GPAs and feedback. Be especially cautious of classes with low GPAs (obviously) and high drop rates (not as obvious). It’s also helpful to Google the professor to find their website. Also be wary of the course feedback if the number of respondents is significantly less than number of students that took the class. Be concerned if they don’t have one, and be concerned if it’s difficult to read or hasn’t been updated since 1994.

So, I’ll show you how my calendar is doing; by the way, Fall 2009 starts on Monday, August 17, 2009.
classes_gcal

It’s pretty crowded, but I can easily see some ways to weed it down. First, the different colors let me pick out which blocks belong to which classes. I really want to take algorithms, so I’ll copy that to my main calendar (Google) or change the color to my “normal” calendar color (Outlook). Next I had a certain statistics professor recommended to me, so I’ll copy his block to my main calendar and hide all the other ones of that class by hiding that Google calendar. Using this process of elimination, I arrive at a fairly good schedule for me:
final_classes_gcal

I don’t actually intend to take all of those classes, though. It is always nice to have a few backups handy in case one of the classes you intend to take fills up before your time ticket begins. Once you’re satisfied with your list, look up each of the CRN numbers so that as soon as your time ticket opens, you can register for all of these classes at once.

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