First Semester Registration Process
The Academic Programs Office and the Registrar’s Office build a schedule for you based on your preferences. We do our best to enroll you in your top choices, but there may be instances where demand exceeds available spaces.
In late July, 2016, you'll receive an email message with your First-Year Course assignment. Once placed in a First-Year Course, changes cannot be accommodated.
You'll receive your complete schedule when you meet with your advisor at Orientation. You may make changes to your schedule during that meeting as course availability permits. Changes to your schedule may also be made during the add/drop period (first 10 days of the semester).
Courses you must take in your first semester
- A First-Year Course
- Any one course, including your First-Year Course, designated argumentative writing (WA) or writing as craft (WC). Most students will meet this requirement through their First-Year Course. Writing designations are indicated in the Fall 2016 schedule.
- Course load. Typically, students enroll in four, 4-credit classes with a 16-credit hour schedule. You may take up to 18 semester hours without being charged additional tuition. A full time student must register for at least 12 semester hours a term.
- Activity courses. You may add 1-credit physical activity classes (we do not have a physical education requirement) and as many music activities as are feasible. Music activities do not count in the semester course load and do not count for credit unless taken in the combinations and/or sequences described in the College Catalog. The Music Department's Studio instruction/private lessons registration and ensemble auditions begin after you arrive on campus.
- Level of the course. 100-level courses are appropriate for incoming first years. In some departments, 200-level courses may also be appropriate. Be sure to check if prior knowledge of a topic is required or suggested or if there are prerequisites. The exception to this rule is students with college credit or placement scores that require them to take a 300-level course (typically in a language).
- Balance. Taking courses from different disciplines with different methods of learning is wise. Not only will this expose you to Macalester’s diverse curriculum, but it may also help you avoid taking three reading/writing heavy courses or three lab intensive courses in the same semester. Variety and balance often go hand in hand.
- Course sequencing. Some disciplines are sequentially organized and it is important to take the appropriate level course early in your college career. Language courses are a good example. If you will be continuing in a language you studied in high school to meet Mac’s second language requirement, taking that course in the first semester is a wise move. The Sciences and Mathematics are also examples of subjects where course sequencing is critical. Students planning to major in these areas are advised to read the departmental recommendations for incoming students about which course should be taken first. Additional guidance is available from individual academic department websites.
- Prior college credit or placement. College credit is awarded to students who have received an appropriate score on the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Exams and for courses taken at a college or university prior to entering Macalester. College credit is not awarded for college in the high school programs. Students who anticipate receiving college credit should not select a course that is equivalent to the course for which credit will be awarded. Similarly, students who are taking courses that have placement exams should take the test prior to selecting courses (in the case of French, German, Spanish and Chemistry) or during orientation (Japanese and Chinese) so that the course selected is appropriate. Schedule adjustments may also be necessary after consultation with the department chair or faculty member teaching the course.
- Graduation Requirements. The college has a set of requirements all students must meet regardless of major. These graduation requirements comprise approximately 1/3 of the credits for graduation. While students need not be overly concerned with these requirements in the first semester, they can help to guide students who are uncertain about what to take. In their first semester students must take a First-Year Course and they must take a course designated WA (argumentative writing) or WC (writing as craft). Students who complete a First-Year Course with a WA or WC designation will satisfy both of these requirements with that single course.