Picking classes the smart way

(Oops, they blew the punch line!)
See their fellow dummies’ reactions.


This guide is lengthy, but it can really help you. If you pick your classes intelligently each semester, you’re much more likely to have a good experience at CU. So pour a cup of your favorite beverage, settle in, and take some time to educate yourself.

There are six steps to picking classes the smart way:

  1. Review your remaining requirements for your degree.
  2. Decide which requirements to fulfill next semester.
  3. Search for classes.
  4. Make sure you’re picking good professors.
  5. Register.
  6. Double-check your schedule.

Below, I give detailed instructions and tips to help you with each step of the process. Along the way, there are many tutorials you can view. When you finish a given tutorial, just use the “Back” button on your browser to return to this page, then continue where you left off.


Step 1

Review your remaining requirements for your degree.

Your degree audit is an online system that keeps track of which requirements you’ve already fulfilled and which ones you still need to meet. You have access to this amazing tool 24 hours a day. Learn to use it well!



Step 2

Decide which requirements to fulfill next semester.

This is where your academic advisor’s help is indispensable. There are many factors that go into planning the right schedule and staying on track for graduation, and your advisor is the expert in this area.

Please be warned, most academic advisors at CU have 500 or more students to advise, so it can be difficult to get an appointment with your advisor right before your registration date. If you’re crafty, though, you can plan ahead and beat the rush.

I can’t speak for other advisors, but I can tell you when my appointments start to get booked several weeks in advance. It happens around the middle of October in the fall semester, and around the middle of March in the spring. Try making an appointment with me before these peak times, and you’ll have a better chance of meeting with me before your registration date.



Step 3

Search for classes.

To see what courses are being offered next semester, use the course search feature of the registration system. CU’s new registration system takes some getting used to, so take the time to look at these tutorials.



Step 4

Make sure you’re picking good professors.

CU provides a wonderful online tool to help you pick the best professors. It’s called the FCQ’s.


A second important source of help is your advisor. He/she will generally have inside information on most of the professors in his/her department. (Although advisors’ schedules are generally too busy to allow us to sit in on classes, we hear a great deal of second-hand information through the hundreds of students we advise.) Your advisor’s knowledge of professors outside his/her department is likely to be more limited. (Please remember, there are hundreds of professors at CU.)

A third source of information about professors is your peers. Make sure to ask your fellow students about their experiences with different classes and professors.

Finally, there are commercial websites you can visit for student ratings of professors. A couple of popular examples are myEDU.com (formerly Pick a Prof) and Rate My Professors.

Tutorial: Commercial professor-rating sites


Step 5


If you’ve been through the tutorials above, you know how to find your registration date, log into the registration system, and search for classes.

If you’ve done your planning well, all you have to do when your registration date comes around is “check out” the classes in your shopping cart and actually enroll in them.

IMPORTANT: The first semester CU introduced the new registration system, several of my students thought they were enrolled in a full schedule classes, only to discover, to their horror, that they had never checked out any of the classes in their shopping cart. By the time they figured this out, most of the classes in their shopping cart were full with wait lists, so they had to scramble to find a whole new set of classes. Not a good situation, unless you like eating leftovers. So don’t let this happen to you! Always follow through with Steps 5 and 6 on this page.




Step 6

Double-check your schedule.

Once you’ve enrolled, there’s an EXTREMELY IMPORTANT final step you should take: run a new degree audit and make sure the courses you’re taking are doing what you think they’re doing.

This will help you avoid the most common mistakes I see students make:

  1. Repeating a course that you can’t get credit for a second time. Avoid it!
  2. Going over your limit on pass/fail or internship hours. Avoid it!
  3. Taking a course that doesn’t meet the requirement you thought it would meet. Avoid it!
  4. Not taking all the classes you need to graduate in your final semester. Avoid it!


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