How to Easily Plan and Register for Your College Courses

Registering for your classes is an important next step after getting into college. Here's how to easily plan your academic schedule and get registered.

Once you’ve decided to enroll at a college, you should start thinking about your academic path for your intended program. Course registration can be a tricky thing with degree requirements, electives, and availability, and with it comes a whole lot of stress. Picking your classes and managing to get into them can be difficult, especially if your school keeps class sizes small for a more personal learning experience. With the following tips, I hope I can help lighten your load as you prepare for the next semester. 

Enrollment dates and course availability

With assistance from your academic advisor, figure out when you’ll be able to register for classes in relation to other students. Typically, first dibs on course selection goes to senior students. Your open registration date will affect how likely you are to get into a given class, so the later you get to register after the first batch of students, the more attention you should pay to backup classes. Enrollment coordination sheets can be extremely confusing, so try to speak to someone who’s been through the process before about how exactly to read them. A counselor can be helpful, but someone who’s more recently acquainted with the system is likely to speak in terminology that makes sense to you; consider reaching out to another student for help if you can. 

Related: How Many Credits Can You Handle Each Semester?

Planning your schedule

If you have a part-time job or any other responsibilities, you’ll need to take those into account when registering for classes so you can tell whoever creates your work schedule that you’ll have some changes coming. The sooner you can alert them to a possible change in your schedule, the better for everyone. Outside of work and other responsibilities, assess how your last term went when deciding how many credits you’re able to take and what courses you think you can handle. If you’re a freshman, most of your courses will be prerequisites, and it should be easier to create a reasonable schedule. Also take into account what those around you suggest, as your friends and family may have advice on how to build a workable schedule.

Required classes

Once you’ve figured out when you can register and what times you’re able to take classes, you’ll need to figure out what you need to take. Before you consider any electives, check the requirements for gen eds and your major and see what you’ve completed thus far. Arrange the courses you’ll need to take by what you’re eligible for based on prerequisite requirements and make a comprehensive to-do list. Find out who, if anyone, you need to contact to get into your required courses and reach out to them. Learn what materials you might need to turn in before you can enroll and send those out as soon as possible. Select your necessary classes first, then choose backups to prepare for flooded enrollments. The most important things should be taken the most seriously. 

Related: 3 Reasons Why Gen Ed Classes Aren't a Waste of Time 

Elective options

Elective courses are general education classes that often appeal to outside interests. Some people prioritize these, but if you’re short on funds to pay for college, the prioritization of electives could pose a serious problem—stretching out your time in school and significantly raising your total tuition costs. This isn’t to say they aren’t important—schools often require students to take a certain number of electives, and they’re highly useful in broadening your worldview and interests. These classes also tend to fill up very quickly, especially when they relate to popular interests. Once you’ve decided what required classes you need to take, make a list of the electives that you’d like to take in order of most interested to least while also making sure they’ll count toward your degree. 

Register for classes

The early bird gets the worm, so you’ll want to set aside time for when registration opens for you to immediately log in and register for your required classes followed by whatever electives are available on your list. Keep in mind there might be crashes if too many people are registering at once, so be prepared to do some waiting. If you do hit any obstacles while registering, such as error codes or registration blocks, reach out to your academic advisor immediately. They’re probably getting a flood of emails, but sending yours as soon as possible won’t hurt and will get you a response faster. Remember to screenshot whatever the issue is and attach it with the rest of the email. 

Related: How to Be a Course Registration Wizard

The best way to plan your college schedule and get ready to register for classes is to meet with those who know the school’s requirements and offerings best, such as counselors and academic advisors, and to do so as soon as possible. Researching on your own won’t do you any harm, but scheduling a meeting with your advisor now is probably the most important thing you can do to prepare for course registration. Best of luck! 

Find more college course and preparation advice to get you through the semester in our Majors and Academics section.

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About Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson

Natalie Johnson is a film student and writer, doing her best to avoid a lifetime of debt. You can find her digging through CollegeXpress for scholarships or working on her art at


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