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Registering for Classes: Advice from an Academic Peer Advisor

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A photo of three students using their laptops with the title,  Registering for Classes: Advice from an Academic Peer Advisor

At New Student Orientation, I vividly remember sitting down with a peer advisor in the English department who helped me navigate through Spire and pick a few classes for my first semester freshman year. Not only did they help me pick classes that were the right fit for me, they taught me some crucial tips on how to use Spire. Here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Spire will be your hub over these next four years where you can register for classes, view and pay your bill, pick your housing assignment, and much more, so it is really important that you have a solid grasp on the website, something that NSO advisors will run through with you. 

As a peer advisor for the communication department, one of my biggest tasks is helping students with their schedules. Students will come to my office hours with any questions and concerns that they may have and we will go through their Spire together to address their problems and decide on the best course of action. While every advising appointment is different, many students want to see if they are on track with their requirements or credits, and want additional help navigating through Spire.

What is the registration process like overall? What are the steps? 

Here at UMass, during the registration period, you will receive your enrollment time and date of when you can enroll in classes. Before that, you can meet with an advisor, search through possible classes, add classes to your shopping cart, check your enrollment holds, and much more. Here is some insight about what the process is like here at UMass and what steps you should take before your enrollment appointment.  

  • Figuring out your enrollment time: Here at UMass, your enrollment date and time for registering for classes is based on the amount of credits you have. For example, if you have 87+ credits, you will likely enroll in classes during the first two dates of enrollment. If you have 57-86, you will go next, then 27-56, then 26 or fewer, and so on. You will be able to find your enrollment date and time on the Spire homepage. 
     
  • Checking and addressing your enrollment holds: Enrollment holds will appear on your Spire homepage and indicate that there is an issue that will prevent you from enrolling in classes for the upcoming semester. If you have any enrollment-restrictive holds, it is recommended that you get in touch with the appropriate office as soon as possible to clear the hold so that you can enroll on time. If you have a Bursar's hold, you will not receive an enrollment date/time until you are in communication with the Bursar's office, so it is extremely important to check if you have any enrollment holds before your date to not risk picking classes at a later date. 
     
  • Adding classes to your shopping cart: Once you have your date and have made sure you have no holds on your account, you can begin adding classes to your shopping cart on Spire. This means that you can start building your schedule before your enrollment date, keeping yourself organized and prepared for your enrollment date and time. As mentioned previously, Spire will be your hub to search through classes and build various schedules before you enroll to guage your options. This is also a great time to meet with an advisor so they can not only make sure that you are on track but aid you in creating your schedule. 
     
  • Your enrollment appointment: Once your enrollment appointment arrives, you can register for the classes that you need. You would simply log into Spire at your date and time, click enrollment shopping cart (if your desired classes are already in your shopping cart), click the correct term that you are picking classes for, and then simply select the classes in your cart that you would like, and click enroll. If this is successful, then you will find your classes in your semester schedule. 

Do you need to see your adviser or get clearance for certain classes?

While most classes will likely not require you to see your adviser before enrolling in said class, meeting with an advisor  before registering for classes is highly recommended. They should be your point of contact before you start adding classes. This is also where you can have all your questions answered and be directed to resources specific to your needs.

Your Spire homepage provides a link to your assigned advisor, including all their contact information. It can be quite busy during registration, so it is a good idea to make your appointment as soon as possible. Ultimately, it is extremely important to check if any of the classes that you are enrolling in have any restrictions, like meeting with your advisor, so you can make sure you can resolve them before your enrollment date and successfully enroll in the class.

How easy is it to get the classes you want?

For myself, registration has always been a relatively easy experience. For both my majors, English and communication, I have a lot of flexibility when it comes to what requirements I need to take by when. It never really was that stressful if certain courses filled up, since I had other requirements to fall back on. While it can be a little frustrating to not get into a class you might have been really looking forward to taking that semester, this has never put me behind in my requirement track.

I have other good friends whose course experience is mapped out for them, so enrolling in classes is a breeze. My good friends in nursing and bio medical engineering have their four years mapped out, so they typically never have to worry about getting into the classes that they need to take. This is somewhat common throughout many of the STEM majors here at UMass.

While registering for classes can be different for every UMass student, the process of enrolling in classes is typically pretty painless and works out in the end. I also highly suggest keeping an eye on the classes you did not get into over break, since people will likely drop the class or rearrange their schedules giving you the opportunity to enroll. 

How did your experience registering for classes as a freshman differ from this year?

During my freshman year, I was nervous that I would not get to enroll in the classes I wanted. While there were times that I did not get into my desired classes, I always had a lot of back up classes to take. The more credits you have, the sooner you pick classes, so I would say that the process definitely gets easier with the more time you have spent on campus. 

How do students choose what section of a class to take? Do they do a lot of research about professors? 

When it comes to choosing what section of a class to take, it really depends on your own scheduling needs and what works best for you. For example, there may be a Biology 100 course that is offered at different times and taught by different professors. For students, this means that you can choose the section that works the best for you. Not a morning person? You can enroll in the later class. While not every course will have different sections, many of the larger introduction classes will have multiple sections so that you can tailor the course to your scheduling needs.

As for professors in each section, typically they are different, so I would highly suggest researching into the professor and seeing if their teaching style works well for you. While I would take reviews from sites like Rate my Professor with a grain of salt (since the reviews are highly influenced by the grades students received), it can still be somewhat helpful when trying to get a feel for a professor’s style of teaching. Ultimately, it is important to prioritize what educational environment you work best in when deciding between professors, not the opinions of other students who likely have different preferences.

 

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Meet the Major: English

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I applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an English major back in 2017. Throughout the entirety of my schooling, I have always been fascinated by literature. I was a textbook book worm. I always had my nose in a book and I was constantly on the hunt for the next piece of literature I could get my hands on. When I was in high school, my love for English flourished. I took Advanced Placement Literature and the course challenged me to explore the depth of the discipline, and left me hungry for more. Back in high school I also had the most compassionate and vibrant English teacher, and her passion for the subject led in part to my decision to pursue a career in English. Despite adding a secondary major in communication, my love for English is still as strong as ever. 

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College is a pivotal time of learning in a student’s life. While you will without a doubt be learning in the classroom, I think a lot of people underestimate how much students grow outside of it as well. Looking back at who I was in high school, I cannot believe how different I am and how much I have grown. My time in college has taught me crucial skills and has given me experiences that I will hold with me for the rest of my life. So, what have I learned outside of the classroom? Let’s take a look at three of the things that I have learned at the University of Massachusetts Amherst outside of the classroom.