Taylow Wichtendahl, Staff Writer
It’s that time of year again: registration season. How can Mason students select the right classes and plan for a seamless registration day?
Paul Bousel, associate director of the Center for Academic Advising, Retention and Transitions, has plenty of advice for students. “No matter what your academic level is, there are important things you can do,” said Bousel.
He said students should be sure to meet with their advisors. “Each one [advisor] schedules advising differently from phone, email, or online registration. The best thing you can do to get on track for next semester is to get in touch with your advisor,” said Bousel.
He advised students to register for an appointment as soon as possible. “Make sure you look on the course catalog and have an idea of what classes are open to you,” said Bousel, “be flexible, try to have lots of alternatives.”
Bousel also advised students to jot down any questions they have before the appointment in order to make sure the meeting is fruitful, and he suggested that students meet with an advisor each semester. “Establish a relationship with your advisor. Use that advisor as a resource,” Bousel said.
Advisors are there to make students’ lives easier when they are planning their schedules. “Meeting with an advisor really clarified and corrected my plan so I could meet all the requirements and graduate on time,” said Taylor Shubert, a sophomore majoring in social work.
An advisor may ask a student to bring a DegreeWorks evaluation to his or her appointment. “DegreeWorks is incredibly helpful,” said Bousel.
Available through Patriot Web, DegreeWorks is a feature that lets students see where they are in their academic career and what courses they need to take to graduate. “Learn how to use Degree works and understand how to use it [DegreeWorks],” said Bousel.
Once a student has declared his or her major, DegreeWorks allows them to see all the classes they will need to take, which makes scheduling significantly easier.
For students who have not declared a major yet, Bousel recommends taking University 220, a course focused on exploring majors and careers.
“On our website, advising.gmu.edu, we have a specific section for students and we have lots of really great resources on there,” said Bousel, “If you look under that section, you can see that there is a place called STEMM [Steps to Exploring Mason Majors] section. This section is full of information about how to discover what is out there for you.”
Students should also be sure to let their advisors know which majors they are considering. This way, advisors have a better idea of which classes to recommend.
Bousel also suggests Undeclared students meet with Career Services. If a student has a career in mind but is having trouble choosing the right major to reach his or her career goals, Career Services has several tools that can help.
Bousel also cautions that students should double check that there are no holds on their accounts prior to registration. It is in a student’s best interest to check this in advance because certain restrictions can take some time to lift.
While on Patriot Web, students should take time to browse through classes to learn what courses meet requirements and which ones can be taken just for fun.
Students should check out the Patriot Scheduler tool in Patriot Web if they have not already. Patriot Scheduler lets students input the courses they wish to take along specific break times. It then generates a number of possible schedules for students to choose from. “Patriot Web [Patriot Scheduler] helps me see all of the different schedules I can create for myself so I can find one that works best for me,” said Hailey Frye, a sophomore government major.
Keeping an open mind is important, explained Bousel, since students may not be able to create the perfect schedule due to scheduling overlaps. Often, two classes a student wishes to take may be scheduled for the same days and times.
“Know what the alternatives are, be aware of what’s being offered. Just have lots of options so you’re not just looking at one specific course at one specific time,” said Bousel.
Bousel also suggest students bring a list of courses they are interested in to their advising appointments and that they know when and how to register. “Be aware of what your registration date and time is, which you can check in Patriot Web…Be ready to register at the earliest point,” said Bousel.
If a student is Undeclared but has some majors in mind, he or she can utilize the Four Year Plans for each major available on the Center for Academic Advising, Retention and Transitions’ website. These plans cannot make up for the individualized attention of an academic advisor, but they can be helpful for students who want to get an idea of some of the courses they might need to take.
If a student has many interests and cannot decide on just one field of study, he or she should consider an integrative studies degree from Mason’s New Century College.
“The Integrative Studies major was built with the goal of empowering students to connect information and approaches from disciplines across the university toward their field. We attract students who want to be actively engaged in their education, through class discussion, and experiential opportunities such as internships, study abroad, volunteer opportunities or field courses,” said Misty Krell, director of Student Services for New Century College.
Krell explained that integrative studies is a way to help students obtain pre-professional experiences like an internship or study abroad that can help students determine future goals.
“Students get to choose classes that excite them, relate to their interests, and have greater opportunities for individualized faculty and advising mentorship,” said Krell. “[The major offers a plan for students who] have clear and unique goals for their career [but who also] wish to take interdisciplinary courses,” said Krell.