Registration is always a bit hectic. From finding classes that will count toward your degree to fitting them around your extracurricular activities, it can be a real pain to get things right. Add in the fact that taking one class over another freshman year can limit your options for minors or double majors down the road, and you are faced with a pretty tough choice each semester.
Students are not always making the most of the classes they take each semester. There must be something GW can do to change this.
GW does try to get students to think ahead. We fill out four-year plans that are supposed to give us insight into the requirements and how we can fit them in during our college careers.
But that four-year plan goes right out the window the moment you go to register. Sometimes classes are full, sometimes they’re simply not offered and sometimes two or more classes conflict with each other. Many end up scrambling around looking for what will fit instead of what is best.
Instead, what if GW focused advising by year? The Career Center does this, and it could be applied to advising. Rather than giving generic advice about requirements, advisers could talk with students and point them toward classes they should take during each year based on their major and other interests. They should ask students about what they hope to do down the line and provoke them to think about planning ahead.
In the Elliott School, students only have to meet with an adviser freshman year to remove a hold. Students should be asked to meet with their advisers at least once a year in every school. Once a semester would be even more effective, but it could become a hassle for advisers in the more popular majors.
For freshmen and sophomores, meetings can cover the classes a student should take in order to keep their options open while advancing toward their degree. For juniors and seniors, these meetings can shift their focus to finishing requirements and preparing for graduation.
Thinking of studying abroad at some point? An adviser can help you choose which requirements you can put off during freshman and sophomore year. Then your transfer credit from abroad can be used to satisfy General Curriculum Requirements rather than becoming elective credits that don’t count toward much. In the meantime you can be laying the groundwork for a double major or a minor in a field that interests you.
Keep in mind that study abroad programs do not always have the diversity of courses that GW has. If you are looking to study abroad in Europe, you might be able to put off a cultures course or a history course here at GW and take that in Europe instead. If you were to take those courses here, you might end up taking more classes in those fields while abroad, even if that is not your area of interest.
In the end, it is still up to us students to take care of things ourselves. The advisers work hard, but they have too many students for them to be on top of all of us.
Take the Elliott School – there over 2,000 students and seven advisers. There are roughly 294 students for each adviser. Thus we have to be the ones to look ahead and find the classes we should take. But not every student is proactive, and sometimes people just forget.
This is where GW must step in and ensure that students aren’t getting lost in the gaps. No student should be in a situation where they discover they might not be graduating in the spring because of a class they missed somewhere along the line. Students shouldn’t have to look back and say, “Well, I could have studied abroad or double majored in this if I had taken some different classes freshman and sophomore year.”
Advisers must challenge students to think about their whole academic career from the start. Students should rise to that challenge.
The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.