Brandon writes: Notes to undergraduates scheduling classes

Photo Credit: John Flannery

If you have been following our student blogs you may have noticed a sharp decline in information posted in the last two weeks. Rest assured there is plenty happening on campus. Actually, because it is finals week, there is simply too much going on, everything has a dreaded deadline, and our grades and emotions hang in the balance, so excuse us for not posting all the excitement.

While the fall semester comes to an end, the new spring semester is just getting ready to kick off and it is already time to register for Spring classes. I have survived a few semesters now and would like to share some advice.

  1. Avoid booking two classes to meet on the same day. While two classes following each other may seem convenient to attend, be aware that paper deadlines and exams will match up as well and you could end up writing 40 pages or taking two exams back to back. Whenever possible book just one class for a given day; that will give you at least 24 hours to eat, shower, study and refresh your brain for the next challenge.
  2. Take classes that accomplish multiple requirements at once. As an undergraduate you have to complete a series of requirements, some classes in Science, Social Science, Humanities, Quantitative Reasoning, Moral Reasoning, Language, and Writing Intensive, a portion of which need to be either Harvard Professor classes and/or Upper Level classes. The ALB degree course search tool makes it easy to find courses that will accomplish three at once. For example, the class “Mind, Brain, Health, Education: The Sciences of Learning” is a Social Science, Harvard Professor, and Upper Level course all in one. The sooner you accomplish the required courses the sooner you are free to take all the other random courses that interest you.
  3. Use the online course evaluation sheet to make sure you are taking all the courses you need to graduate. I have heard more than once from students who forgot about a single course requirement and then had to wait another semester or even a year to graduate. To see your credits earned and what you have remaining to accomplish, login to the extension website, choose “Degree and Certificate Programs” then “Academic Progress Reports” and finally “Course Evaluation Sheet.”
  4. Get the best advice; make an appointment with your advisor. Today I shed a few tears as I poured my heart out about my stresses and wild future goals to my amazing advisor Suzanne Spreadbury. She listened, smiled, gave me a tissue and gave me all the answers I needed to feel confident about my next semester and life in general. Life is full of advisors but it’s not often that you will have the opportunity to speak with a professional advisor; go and get some good advice, there are still plenty of tissues in the box 🙂

In Bostonian slang I wish you “wicked-good” results on your finals and see you on the other side of the rainbow! Winter break, family, food, and New Year’s resolutions! Oh and don’t forget to read all the course books for next semester ahead of time. The reading is often listed in the course syllabus posted online.


  1. Gabriell
    Posted December 14, 2009 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the post! I thought your first tip was especially useful. I never really considered the disadvantages of taking two classes on the same day. Before tonight,I never knew that HES had a student BLOG. What else am I missing that HES has to offer = ( ?

    • Posted December 17, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the compliment! I just finished my final exams! Woohooo! Now I can finally take a minute to reply.

      Honestly there are so many great resources at Harvard Extension School and I am just beginning to learn them. Best thing to do is, as recommended above, book an appointment with your advisor. They will give you a tailored list of the best resources for your goals. And if there aren’t any at this time then simply go back in a few months because there are always new projects brewing. Also, I never really cared about my GPA in previous school adventures but now that I am enjoying school it has made it easier to keep my grades up. And having a strong GPA say 3.5 or higher really opens up other options like Faculty Aide jobs.

      Wishing you a great Winter Holiday!

%d bloggers like this: