It was my freshman year in college and I was feeling ambitious so I decided to register for Spanish 202. I had after all, taken three years of Spanish in high school so I felt pretty confident. The first couple of weeks seemed bearable but the pace of the course began to pick up. In high school, teachers have the full school year to teach most subjects where as in college, the coursework is condensed into one semester. I was a young 17-year-old and I had a 16-credit course load. Spanish, it turns out, was the hardest of the bunch.
By the fourth week, I was so overwhelmed that I stopped showing up to Spanish class. I thought the instructor would automatically drop me from the class since I was no longer there – I was WRONG! Most instructors will give a student an F if they stop showing up to class without formally dropping or withdrawing. Lucky for me my instructor was empathetic toward my freshman naiveté and he gave me an “incomplete” instead of an F. To avoid making similar mistakes, here are some tips that I recommend to help you:
Be Realistic about your Course Load
Most students would like to finish their program as soon as possible but you should take into account that each course requires x-amount of hours of coursework outside the classroom per week (read our blog post on school schedule for more information). Before you register for a class, read the full course description in the course catalog to get a better grasp on what each course fully entails.
Keep Track of Deadlines
As mentioned in our blog post Financial Aid: A date to remember, keeping track of any sort of deadline is important, especially when it comes down to dropping or adding a course. Once the add/drop deadline passes, you are academically and financially responsible for your courses. Make sure the classes you are registered in are manageable and are related to your program.
Payment deadlines are also important to remember. Some institutions may allow you pay the tuition at the end of the semester (with a series of late fees). If the tuition isn’t paid, there might be a hold on your student account, prohibiting you from registering for the next semester. Other institutions might drop you from your courses if the payment isn’t submitted by the deadline. If needed, check with your Financial Aid Office to see if they offer some sort of payment assistance plan.
Before every semester, I would suggest you mark down all of the important deadlines on your personal calendar and add multiple reminders so you don’t miss out. Whether it be a digital calendar or paper calendar or even a daily journal, document the important deadlines so you can be proactive rather than reactive.