Ask a Fifth Year: The Classes, They Are a-Changing

Dear Sarah,

Pre-registration for next year just began a few weeks ago, and I’m not feeling so great about the classes I signed up for. I snagged spots in the required courses I plan on taking next year, but I still have a lot of space I need to fill with electives in order to have enough credits. Do you have any suggestions on what I should take? Should I fill my time with a bunch of easy classes that won’t take time away from my major, or do you think I should try and go more out of the bounds?

– The Lonesome Registration of Hattie Carroll


Dear Hattie Carroll,

First of all, I don’t think “easy classes” exist at Lawrence. I don’t know of anyone here who has managed to find the elusive “easy A to boost my GPA” class. All the professors I’ve worked with try very hard to provide you with enough material and work to ensure that if you do all the work, you will learn something. This is because, believe it or not, your professor’s job is to teach you interesting and useful information, not just to award you with an arbitrary letter and number at the end of term.

That being said, I wouldn’t be afraid to take classes outside of my intended field. As a music major, I’ve found the classes I’ve taken in the college to be some of the most valuable and interesting experiences I’ve had at Lawrence. For example, taking a few creative writing classes has helped me explore new ways to create and perform music. Inspiration can come from any avenue; it doesn’t need to explicitly apply to your intended career field.

If concern about your GPA dropping is seriously holding you back from taking a class you’re otherwise very interested in, consider registering for it using the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option. This form of registration still requires you to do the same amount of work as you would if you were registered for the class normally, but your grade from it will not be automatically included in your GPA calculation. If you surprise yourself and end up doing spectacularly, you can always remove the S/U option and have the class included in your GPA calculation.

When taking risks regarding class scheduling, it is important to keep your overall schedule in mind. Always remember your required classes. You don’t want to end up overbooking yourself further down the road. Are there some classes that are only offered in specific terms? Is there a class you’re dying to take that’s only offered every other year? Make sure you save room for these things in your schedule.

In addition, talk to upper classmen to figure out which courses are going to be the most work. That required class with 20 hours of practicum, six books on the syllabus, three small papers and one final term paper is maybe not the class you want to take if you have a recital that term.

P.S. Don’t forget to have your advisor lift your hold.