First-Year Student Registration


Registration Process and Instructions

Please read the Registration Guide and Registration Instructions carefully. Then go here to register for classes.


A message from Jayne Niemi, Registrar

Registering for Your First Semester at Macalester

How will I Register? For your first semester at Macalester, the Academic Programs Office and the Registrar’s Office build a schedule for you based on preferences that you submit. Registration forms are due on July 1 and we will immediately begin processing forms received by that date. Registration forms received after July 1 will be processed on a first come, first serve basis. Except for the First-Year Course you select (Mac’s equivalent to a first-year seminar), you may make changes to this schedule at orientation as necessitated by placement exams, and recommendations from your advisor, as course availability permits. In subsequent semesters you will register yourself through our on-line system after perusing the course schedule and meeting with your academic advisor.

When will I know what courses I am in? In late July we will notify you of your First-Year
Course assignment. You will receive your complete schedule when you meet with your advisor at Orientation. Please note that we may make adjustments to your schedule throughout the summer. Your schedule as it appears on 1600grand is not final until Orientation. Do know that we will do our best to enroll you in your top choices, but there may be instances where demand exceeds available spaces. Rest assured we will never put you in a course you do not want to take and that you may make changes to your schedule both during orientation and during the drop/add period at the beginning of the semester. The one exception to this flexibility is your First-Year Course assignment; that assignment will not change once you are notified in late July.

How many courses will I take? Your first semester at Macalester will typically include four, 4-credit classes. To complete 128 semester hours (the minimum number needed to graduate) in four years, you need to average 32 semester hours per academic year. A full time student must register for at least 12 semester hours a term. To a typical 16-credit hour schedule, interested students 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 Catalog. Registration into music lessons and ensembles happens after you arrive on campus and consult with the Music Department. You may take up to 18 semester hours without being charged additional tuition.

What types of courses should I take? The only requirement you must meet in your first semester is the First Year Course Requirement (Mac’s equivalent to a freshman seminar). There are 34 different options for you to choose from this fall, on a wide-variety of topics, representing diverse disciplinary perspectives. Some students choose this course based on the topic; others because they want to explore a department in which they might major or minor. Either approach is fine. Because this is only one course out of four, and it only lasts one semester, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the first year to explore majors or interest areas beyond the First-Year Course.

What other things should I consider when building my course list?

  • 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 pre-requisites. 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 about which course should be taken first.
  • 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 and Spanish) or during orientation (chemistry, 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 general (divisional) distribution requirements, to ensure that you are broadly educated, as well as more targeted skill and competency requirements, to ensure that you are equipped for the contemporary challenges facing our world. These 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.

back to top

Registration Steps

  • Select a First-Year Course. Read the descriptions of the First-Year Courses being offered. Choose four that you want to take. List these four on the top of the Registration Form in rank order. Provide any special considerations in the comments section (information about AP/IB exams, major plans, etc.) You will be placed into one of the four listed. No changes can be made to the First-Year Course once it has been assigned, so be certain that you are happy with any of the four options listed. For questions about First-Year Courses contact
  • Read the recommendations from Academic Departments  that are offering courses in fields you are considering. Often these guidelines will include preferred sequences or best ways to explore the major as well as information on placement. For questions about academic departments contact the person identified on the recommendations page or Academic Programs.
  • Read course descriptions. In the schedule of classes in 1600 Grand, click on the course title, then View Catalog Entry. This description will tell you about the course and include information about pre-requisites. The catalog is also available from the Registrar’s webpage. For questions about pre-requisites contact the
  • Read Course Selection FAQ's for tips on building your first semester course list.
  • Select thirteen courses you are interested in taking, in addition to the First-Year Course. Keeping in mind course level, sequencing, balance, and prior college credit, list in rank order on the registration form the thirteen courses you are interested in taking. These should be different courses, not just different sections of the same course. Provide any special considerations in the comments section (information about AP/IB exams, major plans, etc.), including which alternate sections of courses are acceptable. The Registrar’s Staff will do its best to enroll you in your top choices, but there may be instances where demand exceeds available spaces. Know that we will not place you in a course that is not on your list and that you may amend your schedule, as appropriate and necessary, at orientation. Questions about how to select courses may be directed to either the or the
  • Registration Forms are due July 1, 2014.

back to top