Dear Shannon: Surviving Bad Pick Times (and Other Concerns)

pick time

Hey Shannon!

I was inspired to write to you after your last advice column. What a helpful response! I know I’d take your advice. I actually have a few questions. With my first registration coming up, what should I do if I have a not-so-great pick time? Mine is the last day at 4:15. What are some classes I should take here that I could get into? Will I graduate on time if I get boxed out of every required class I need?


Freaking Out Here


Hey FOH,

Great questions! One thing I have to note about your not-so-great pick time—you are wrong about that. It isn’t not-so-great. It’s terrible. You got one of the last pick times for the entire school. That truly sucks for you. But it’s okay! We can help with this.

The first thing I do when registration rolls around is scope out the offerings for the next semester and make a list of them in a document. I write out the times and days and, most importantly, the course index number—the four-digit number found toward the bottom of the course description if you click on it. I sort out my schedule first by the classes I have to take for my major or the core, and then classes that I want to take as electives. If a certain class interests me enough, I’ll write down every section’s information. From there, I copy and paste the classes to lay out my potential schedules and identify if they have everything I want and need. I compare it to an academic planning sheet that my advisor sent me years ago to see if I’m on track with everything. This all sounds very methodical and obsessive, and that is pretty accurate. This is probably the thing I am most organized about in my life.

From your pick time, the world is not going to be your oyster. It’s going to be more like a locked steel door with no keys, or even just an oyster that no one has taken the top off of yet. The next semester might be a good time to take core classes, which are more likely to be open during this slot. Though a lot of people save their art core until senior year, they can be a good outlet for when times are stressful. I took Painting: Foundations second semester of my junior year, and though I cannot say I am the next Van Gogh after it, I felt relaxed during the several hours a week I spent working on my latest piece in Devlin 406. Another popular arts favorite is Introduction to Theatre, which usually requires you to see one of the Robsham or Bonn productions. Now you actually have to see that production of No Exit instead of promising your friend from history that you’ll definitely try to make it and pretending to get food poisoning from one of the old vending machine snacks at the last minute.

Lecture classes also tend to stay open until the end, so if you have a history or science core class to take, it’s time to sign up. You’ll be surrounded by 300 people who feel exactly how you feel every Monday at 10 a.m. when you’re talking about volcanoes or the Mayflower or something, and that can be great for morale.

When the time comes for you to register, there are also a few tips and tricks to maximize your time and chances. First thing: Make sure you have UIS on your computer. One year I tried to sign onto UIS, and it turned out the software was erased from my laptop. I had to hop onto someone else’s and input my classes, which didn’t affect the courses I ended up getting, but it caused me unnecessary stress for a few minutes. Also, don’t lose your degree audit. That is something I did when I was a young sophomore, which led to a last-minute sprint to 90 401 to find it on my dresser under a bag of Cheez Its.

Something to also consider is when you can actually register. There is an urban legend that goes around in some circles that you can actually log on to UIS six or seven minutes earlier than your registration time and be perfectly fine. I have found that to be true, so congratulations, FOH, you will have a whole six minutes on the other people in your pick time, which could make a big difference.

Remember when I mentioned the course index number? You can use that to register for your classes. It’s a lot easier to plug in just the four numbers of the course index instead of ACCT447203 or something. With that gross pick time, you need all the time you can get, so you could potentially save a few seconds just from switching from the class number to the course index when you are inputting the courses.

Your most important moment, though, will come after registration. Sign up for EagleScribe to get notified when a class opens up. Find out through friends and classmates if there are any people who want to swap with what you have or others so you can have the inside scoop before they drop it and replace it with something else. Add/drop week will be your salvation. If you really want to take Introduction to Musics of the World and one of your friend’s girlfriend’s roommates realized that you need to write a 10-page paper for the class once they got the syllabus, you’re in.

And really, you’ll eventually end up taking all the courses you need to so you can graduate. UIS is not going to prevent you from doing that—but the language requirement might.

Still taking Intermediate French I even though I’m a senior,


Featured Image by Zoe Fanning / Heights Editor


About Shannon Kelly 84 Articles
Shannon Kelly was the assistant features editor in 2017 and the associate copy editor in 2016. She could win an Emmy one day! Follow her in advance @ShannonJoyKelly.