Continuing with the advice offered up by Fletcher students, answers to the next question turned out to be a mix of strictly practical and more philosophical tips.  The question:

Describe your experiences with course registration, shopping day, etc., particularly given that registration takes place after students are on campus.  Did you buy your textbooks on campus or online?

(First, a note.  “Shopping Day” takes place one day before classes actually begin.  Professors offer mini sessions (with several running concurrently) so that students can knowledgeably select the classes that best meet their schedule and intellectual needs.  Students don’t submit registration materials until after Shopping Day.)

Januarian Erika Tabacniks provides comprehensive advice, as she did in Tuesday’s Advice post.  She writes:  “Shopping day is important, fun, and tiring.  Look over the schedule and know exactly where you are going.  Student evaluations of the courses are available online and in the library.  They are very helpful when deciding what classes to take.  You can see the students’ opinions, as well as how many students were in the class.

“Pick up the class syllabi.  They’re important for the following reasons:  They let you know how much reading a class requires; they give you a sense of the professor; and they tell you whether you will have to write a paper or take an exam, the due dates, and the weights given to assignments.  Try to balance your classes so that you don’t have an overload of work all at once.”

Fellow Januarian MALD student Filipa Azevedo Jorge, also has only one course registration period under her belt:  “I chose the courses I wanted to take before the semester began.  During shopping period, however, I changed the courses based on the professors and my interests.  I found shopping period a little overwhelming but helpful.”

Harvey Beasley, now entering his second year as a MALD student, also reflects on that typical student problem — it can be hard to do too much planning before you’re actually on campus:  “I had picked out the classes I thought I was going to take in my first two semesters before getting to campus.  That entire plan went straight out the window on shopping day.  Courses had been added that I just couldn’t miss.  Some classes weren’t offered that I thought would be, and the personality of some professors just changed my mind about some classes (in both positive and negative ways).  Then there is the input from fellow classmates and second years….My advice is to take a look at the course offerings before you come to campus, but don’t spend too much time mapping out your time at Fletcher.  Shopping day can change everything.”

PhD student Tom McCarthy takes a practical look at the second part of the question:  “You can buy used textbooks online or even online through the campus store once you get here (they have them boxed up for your pick-up).  Many classes have all the readings online and downloadable in PDF format, which supplements the books you buy.  If you know which classes you will take, get the books early to hit the ground running.  If you do not, then wait until after shopping day.  Many classes have the first readings (even if they are books) online, so that you can attend the initial session without having to buy the text.”

Harvey Beasley agrees:  “I bought almost all of my textbooks online.  Options for used books online are often so much cheaper than buying them on campus.  If you know that you absolutely will be taking a certain class, see if you can get used textbooks from another Fletcher student.  There is always a mad sale of books at the end of each semester and it’s good to take advantage of it.”

And Erika adds an additional option for finding course books, the library:  “Instead of buying the books, a good option is to read them in the library.  Most books from your classes are “on-reserve”; this means that you ask for them at the library counter and you have to give them back after two hours (or check them out again).  Good news:  If you check it out late at night you can keep the book until the next morning.  (Don’t be late, or you will pay $1.00 for each hour.)  Everyone in the library is very nice and will be glad to answer any questions you may have.”

The practical and the philosophical.  Might be a way of capturing the Fletcher experience!  There’s still more advice to come.  Tune in again next week!


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