Why Picking Classes is Tough

April 2, 2016

Believe it or not, it’s that time of the semester when we start registering for classes.

Choosing your classes is an important and time-consuming decision for a graduate student. It’s tough because there are so many options within Viterbi (and sometimes even outside of it), no matter what your major. You can focus on fewer options if you have a specific track or concentration within your major. Even then, you have to balance other parameters – class timings, professors, extra-curricular commitments (i.e. research labs), usefulness versus interest, etc.

When picking classes, I look for classes that will help me with my end goal for my Master’s. I usually end up with an Excel document where I map my class schedule. Excel may be overkill but it’s important to plan out your classes for more than just the next semester. For example, since I was interested in neural implants, I checked what semester the neural engineering classes are available (usually only in the spring) and planned my schedule around that. By thinking one or two semesters ahead, and keeping room in your schedule for the classes you want to take, you can end up with an optimal class schedule.

If you find a roadblock to taking a class that you want to, don’t give up right away. By talking to my adviser, I’ve found ways around many roadblocks. Although mandatory advisement is not required for graduate students, I meet my adviser anyway. In preparation for my appointment, I have a few class options in mind after scouring the Schedule of Classes and a few questions to ask. Advisers can’t tell you about the class material but they can help you pick classes to meet your goals. They also offer practical advice, such as whether the classes you’re considering will give you a balanced workload or not.

Lastly, consider taking classes outside of your department because it will add a new perspective in your Master’s coursework. You never know when that could come in handy. Once you’ve picked your classes, all that’s left is doing well in them…piece of cake right? Just kidding.

Published on April 2nd, 2016

Last updated on January 20th, 2021