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One of the few Berkeley experiences that transcends majors, departments and even class years is course registration. Every Berkeley student has felt the despair of having much-desired class fill up before they could register, the joy of getting into a class off a waitlist that seemed hopelessly intractable. Well, the madness of Phase 1 has finally come and gone, not to be seen again until spring semester. Now that it’s over, we can finally take a break and reflect on the process itself. Here are the stages (emotional and otherwise) of choosing classes at Berkeley.

1. Excitement!

giphy (6)There are so many courses to choose from! Maybe you’ll take a language class this semester and impress your family the next time you go home. Or perhaps you’ll sign up for that cool philosophy course your friend recommended. You could learn anything! Possibilities abound!

2. Realizing how restricted your options actually are

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Well, you have to finish that R1B requirement before the end of sophomore year, so you’d better fit that into your schedule for the upcoming semester. And you have to take that one math class before declaring your major, so that’s another 4 units locked in. Well, at least you have room for one more class of your own choosing before you hit the Phase 1 maximum, so that’s good… you guess? It looks like Meme Studies and that cool Norse mythology class will just have to wait another semester…

3.Spending hours poring over NinjaCourses reviewsgiphy (2)

Should you choose the 8 AM lecture with the professor everyone adores, or the 3 PM lecture with a professor whom one reviewer described as having “the energy and enthusiasm of a narcoleptic sloth”? There’s really no good answer, you start to realize.

Making tough decisions

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You give that 3 PM lecture one last longing glance as practicality wins out over your desire for sleep.

Perfecting your schedule

Now that you’ve got the rough outline and you know which classes you want, it’s time to tailor everything perfectly to your liking. Back-to-back discussion sections? Better choose ones that are in the same building. Lab section in North campus? You choose the section that gets out at noon, so you can hit up the restaurants right afterwards. Life is a game of optimization, and no detail is too insignificant to ignore.

Throwing all your plans out the window when your registration period opens

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They say beggars can’t be choosers, and that message really starts to resonate with you as you abandon your “no discussions after 4 PM” rule and frantically click on any discussion section that’s still open. 7 PM in a building all the way across campus? Fine—at this point, you’ll take anything. The little blue squares taunt you as you watch your meticulously-planned schedule go up in flames. Why is everything full?! This school is too big, you complain. Why didn’t I just go to that nice small liberal arts college I got into? Why was 17-year-old me so short-sighted?

Accepting your fate

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So maybe your schedule isn’t quite the perfect work of art you had hoped it would be. And maybe you’ve ended up with a couple of classes that weren’t exactly your top choices (not to say that you don’t like Media Studies, but all you know about it is that it’s 3 units and satisfies an L&S breadth requirement). But at least you’ve got your semester mostly sorted out! And this process has made you just a little better prepared for the next time course registrations roll around. Next time, you promise yourself, things will be better.


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Uma Unni


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