I came into Stanford undecided… very undecided. I considered majoring in English, psychology or economics, to name a few, but I eventually chose communication. As a result, I shopped and dropped a bunch of classes — and I even added a few classes right before the add/drop deadline. Joining a class in Week 3 is not always easy, but it’s definitely doable. Here are my tips for enrolling in a class at the last minute.
1. If you can, choose something fun.
Maybe you have to take a certain class for your major or other requirements. But if you have at least some leeway, choose a class that interests you. After dropping a 5-unit class last spring, I decided to join PSYCH 141: “Cognitive Development.” It was a manageable workload, I got to dive deeper into psychology (a field I enjoy), and I learned about babies! Make the most of those extra few units by exploring something that piques your curiosity.
2. Consider the units.
It was a lot easier for me to catch up in a 1-unit yoga class than a 5-unit art history class. Also, think about your current schedule: Are you below the minimum number of units, or do you just want a fitness class to destress from p-sets? This can help you decide whether a class is the right fit for you.
3. Email the instructor before joining.
Even if there are still open spots on Axess, you might have missed an important assignment, or the class could be full even if it looks open. The instructor or a TA can give you the resources you need to get up-to-date, such as lecture slides or a syllabus.
4. Catch up on readings and attend class.
I know, way easier said than done (I may or may not be behind on some readings right now). But when you’re joining a class late in the game, it can be really easy to get behind, especially if you have a Week 4 midterm or essay (gasp!). I recommend setting aside a chunk of time during the weekend to crank out as many readings as possible.
Attendance is also key. If the class takes attendance, then joining late might result in some unexcused absences. Take this into account if you think future attendance will be an issue.
5. Most importantly, think of it as a new opportunity!
Whether you’re taking something you’re familiar with or trying out a totally new field, joining a class at the last minute can give you a whole new perspective. You might discover a new path: After taking PSYCH 141, I’m strongly considering doing a psych minor. Or the class might not be your cup of tea, and that’s okay!
One of the things I love most about Stanford is that you can try out so many new experiences. Whenever you do something new, you learn a little bit more about yourself — and that’s been one of my most valuable takeaways from college.
Contact Kristen Lee at klee23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.