August 19, 2013

One More Green Check Mark...

Attend APA Day
 Receive Housing assignment
Search social media to learn everything about your roommate
Plan dorm room d├ęcor in keeping with fall’s color trends
Frantically post to Class of 2017 FB group about missing check marks (yea, we peeped that)
This is the moment that you’ve been waiting for: First-year schedules go live tomorrow, August 20th!
We here at the First Year advising office know that you’ll experience lots of emotions when you view your schedule: confusion, excitement, terror, annoyance, frustration, exhilaration.  We know that these courses are your first classes in college, so we know how important they are. We wish we could tell you that it will be a perfect schedule. It won’t be, for lots of reasons. Some classes were closed, some have prerequisites that you may not have met, while some just didn’t fit with your other course choices. Some will be at times of the day or locations that you don’t love. And yes, in many cases, when your choices were not available, we did add other “random” classes, based on your academic interests, plans, courses that you’ve taken previously, courses open on your home campus.

Know this: there is nothing random about our process or your schedule. The schedules are as good as we could make them at this moment in time. And make no mistake, they have been a labor of love. Your forms may have traveled through more zip codes than you did this summer. We carry your hopes and dreams with us to lunch, to the beach, to our homes on the weekends, and we work in your best interest to craft a schedule that makes sense. One of the reasons that they take so long to get into your hands is that we work on them and work on them and work on them. We talk with departments about finding space in courses. We make changes based on your APs, IBs, other college courses you’ve taken, summer courses, even (for a while) your own changes as you thought about your plans. But the truth is this: you may find a better option during the first week of classes that simply wasn’t available to us through the summer. And if that happens, we celebrate along with you!
So, we know that many of you will be planning to make changes to your schedules. The only way to make changing classes a fair and manageable process is by having you participate in Add/Drop
with all Rutgers students. Here’s why:
1.       During the add/drop period, more seats and sections of classes do open up, so it will give you more options for changes you’re planning.
2.       The add/drop period also allows you to attend classes to see what you think – both about classes you planned and those we added. Even if you think one of your courses is “random,” try it on for size. More than a few students will admit that their major or minor came from that random class. Remember that shirt that looked strange on the hangar but great on you? Yeah, like that.  
3.       Hi! You’re new here! Trust us: this is the culture of our institution and our faculty. Prior to the add/drop period, many of our departments and faculty are not prepared to vet requests for classes. They expect students to make changes during add/drop.
So where to from here? Plan these next steps:
1.       RIGHT NOW: breathe. We mean it! This isn’t a brush off or condescending; this just got real. Enjoy the time that you have left with your family, with the summer weather, with the time to read for pleasure and sleep in. Your first semester at Rutgers will be some of the most challenging months of your life – establishing yourself as a scholar and member of the Rutgers community – and there will be time for little else. Worrying over things that you can’t change for the next two weeks robs you of the richness of properly closing the door on one chapter of your life before beginning your undergraduate career.
2.       September 2nd: We will have workshops during the Scarlet Knights Days Orientation to teach you how to consider changes and how to use webreg and other online tools for academic planning.
3.       September 3rd – 13th: you will be able to walk in to see an adviser for any questions or problems during add/drop. All four SAS Advising Offices will be open from 8:30 am to 5pm with deans available to talk with you about your schedule, make helpful suggestions, and help you navigate the add/drop process.

Until September 2nd, if you have questions, we will be happy to answer them, but we will not make any changes to schedules. Waiting is hard, but we also know that things will work out and sometimes the best help comes from waiting and learning how to navigate a complicated system – with help. 

Good things come to those who wait; GREAT things come to those who wait and trust their deans. Let’s make this a great semester, together!