1. Preregister. You’ll probably be given the opportunity to register for classes in March or something. You might even end up taking one of the classes that you preregister for (… although frankly, it’s unlikely). Sign yourself up for the first six courses that sound vaguely interesting (and meet after 11AM, obviously). Stress out about getting into that one seminar that’s supposed to fill up really fast. You will either be one of the twenty fastest clickers or you won’t, in which case, resolve to show up to the class on the first day and schmooze your way in. Decide, maybe you’ll really enjoy taking a seminar on Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals. You should definitely sign up for that one.
2. Forget all about the classes you preregistered for. You’ve got a life to live! You’ve still got this current semester to worry about! (Unless you are a freshman, in which case you will probably obsess over this for months. Or maybe that’s just me. But I think it’s everyone.)
3. Realize that the semester is approaching. Realize that you should probably have some idea of what classes you’ll be showing up to in a few weeks. Revisit your preregistration. Wonder what the hell you were thinking — “Attachment to Objects in Chinese Literature”? What does that even mean?
4. Browse the course catalog. Browse it so hard. Read every single course description in every department that sounds like it might be even somewhat interesting. Lament the fact that your one concentration requirement conflicts with Intro to American Sign Language, because it sounds (looks?) totally awesome. Decide it’s been too long since you’ve done math. Change your mind. Decide you’d really like to read some Jane Austen this semester. Ponder anthropology. You’ve never really taken any anthropology. Why is that? Oh, right, because you’re hoping to emerge from college with at least one marketable skill. Read over the Economics options twice, hoping one of them will sound interesting. Keep going until you have a list of ten or more classes that you are interested in. Nine of them will meet at the same time. Oops.
5. Draw up potential schedules. Imagine how these classes would interact. Choosing a course schedule is like making a salad. You could just throw in a bunch of things you like and hope it turns out for the best, but it’s probably better to consider how your various ingredients will influence the overall flavor. You probably don’t want to take three classes in the same department unless it’s absolutely necessary, lest you end the semester with the urge to set the building on fire. On the other hand, if you’re planning on walking briskly from Foundations of Visual Art to MATH0190 every Thursday afternoon, you’re gonna have a bad time. Consider every factor. Also consider the price of textbooks (or, how necessary buying the textbook is likely to be).
6. Wait for classes to start. Go to them. Decide you hate half of them. Suddenly, there’s a hole in your schedule. End up randomly accompanying your friend to a Film Studies class because she doesn’t want to go alone. Love it. There you go. Problem solved.