Course registration. Two words, five syllables, an experience that occurs eight times in one’s Hopkins career. For me, this is one of those things that I came to college with no true understanding of; in high school, my classes were either picked for me, or I got to choose one or two from a very short list of options, limited even more by guidance counselor’s strongly recommended but not required (a.k.a. required) choices. At Hopkins, multiply that list by about 50 and add the fact that there is no core curriculum, and you are left with a whole world of courses to choose from.

Luckily, you do not go into this daunting process blindly. The summer before freshman year, your academic advisor contacts you via e-mail and goes over the classes you are considering before registration. For spring semester registration, your advisor meets with you in person in early November to do the same. My advisor, Ms. B., was super helpful in assisting me not only in finding courses that would be useful, but also in finding courses to take just for fun, or to hopefully discover a new field of interest (#undecidedlife). But the best part about being forced to meet with your advisor, besides actually being productive and figuring out your life, is that they have free candy and coloring books in the office waiting room. Free candy. And coloring books.

Once you’ve chosen what courses you want, decided how you want your schedule to look, and abused, the only thing left to do is put the courses in your cart in SIS (student information system). This part is kinda fun; it’s like online shopping, except without the part where you add sixteen pairs of shoes to your DSW shopping cart and then realize that money is a thing and you need to get your life together.

After your classes are in your cart, all you can do is wait for the day of course registration. I promise, you will know the day of course registration. The day before registration, your friends, acquaintances, and random people in your marketing class who you didn’t even know were freshmen will all remind you throughout the day to set your alarm for the next day. This is because, fun fact, course registration occurs at the lovely hour of 7 AM. And you will set that alarm. You want these classes. These classes are your personal perfect mix of practical, interesting, and late – you are not an early riser. Hence your alarm. You will set that alarm.

When you wake up on the morning of course registration, foggy-eyed and sore-thumbed from hitting the snooze button every 10 minutes since 6:00, you finally reach for your laptop, open SIS, check off the boxes in your cart by the classes you want to register for, and stare at the clock starting at 6:57, waiting for it to change to 7:00 and testing your reflexes by hovering your finger over the trackpad. Just as 6:59 turns to 7:00, you click “Register”, and… you wait. Because the loading bar on SIS will get stuck a quarter of the way through, or you’ll get a completely white screen, and there is no other scenario. And in that 60 seconds that it takes to load SIS, your mind goes through stages of panic. First, you’ll blame your wifi. Then, you’ll convince yourself that your brand new computer is slow. Finally, you’ll decide that this is only happening to you, and everyone else has their classes by now, and you’re going to end up taking Organic Chemistry as a Writing Seminars major.

After a full minute of utter panic, the enrollment page is finally revealed. And one of two things happens. One: you get every class you signed up for, the world has returned to calm, and you wonder why you ever freaked out in the first place.

Two: you don’t get every class you wanted. And for a second, your heart drops and you swear this is worse than the time that you tripped in the cafeteria in middle school and spilled your lunch everywhere – and that was bad. But then you go back to SIS, look for other options as backups in case you don’t get in off the waitlist, maybe even consider 9 AMs and think about what your life would be like if you started your day 3 hours earlier than normal, how much time you would have later in the day; maybe you would even have time to work on your nonexistent biceps, or learn how to crochet, or call your parents who at this point, are unsure if you’re still alive. You may even stumble upon a class in a subject you had no idea existed, like Introduction to Sustainability or Animal Behavior. And in the most anti-climactic fashion, you simply check the box next to your new choices, and you register. Simple as that. Yea, you may not have your first choices, but after all, college is for discovering isn’t it?