I have a history minor. I don’t have one because I sought higher education to become a scholar of history. No, I accumulated enough hours for a minor because there always were a lot of sections of history open at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That is why I took Southeast Asian History ... and Eastern European History ... and Korean History ... and Native American History.

In retrospect, I see that this was not my brightest collegiate moment. However, with the rush to register each semester, many underclassmen probably commit the same act of desperation. So as a service, I am sharing the Top 5 Stupid Ways to Choose a Class. With each boo-boo, I will offer a lesson learned ... the hard way.

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5. So, the #5 most stupid way is picking solely on what is open after 10 a.m. The lesson learned is that one should always register as early as possible to get the classes you need at the times and locations you want. Did you know that thousands and thousands of students register for classes the very first week that registration opens at colleges and universities? It is no wonder a certain member of my family (who will remain nameless) ended up taking Humanities at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday when he waited to register until the week before classes started.

4. My friend offered to loan me her book if I took the class she had just finished. Then she would sell it back at the end of my semester. Books are expensive. This sounded like good financial planning (and I could blow the money my parents gave me for the book on clothes instead). So I took the class.But just my luck, the professor picked a new book. Not only did I still have to buy the book (and endure a class I hated), but my friend was hacked because she said I blew her chance to sell. Lesson learned: Never mix friendship and college business. There are better ways to save money in college.

3. Speaking of books, another erroneous piece of advice handed down by upperclassmen was “Never take a class from someone who wrote the book.” That one earns the number three slot on our countdown.


Logic told me that a professor who wrote the book would be tough. Of course, that did not mean that the non-author would be easy, nor did it mean that the non-author Would be better. In fact, a professor who has written his or her own textbook is an expert. It is quite possible that the professional author will be a fantastic instructor from whom you learn a great deal. Lesson learned: The fact that he or she is published does not mean you will perish.

2. Because a hot guy (or girl) just signed up for it ... yes, this short-term decision puts you closer to a date, but what if he (or she) drops?! What’s more, you may not be prepared for Organic Chemistry. Lesson learned: Never ever choose a class (or a job or an apartment or anything else) because an attractive member of the opposite sex is there ... no matter how hot he (or she) is.

1. Just because it is a film class does not mean it is easy. “Western Novel and Film” sounded like a blow-off English credit. How hard could it be to watch Blazing Saddles? Wrong. It was one of the most difficult classes I ever took. There was a lot more reading than the usual literature class, and I had to buy a ton of books. So again, perhaps the real lesson learned is that no matter how badly you want to pad your GPA, you shouldn’t pick classes because you think they will be easy. In college, there is no easy class. Lesson learned: Pick something you want to learn.

Although I declared my minor the week before graduation, taking so much history was not a bad thing. In fact, I really loved Historical Geography and a few others. The biggest lesson learned is that it is important to set yourself up to succeed in college as well as after graduation. That may not mean choosing the easy class or whatever is open when you are most awake. If I was 18 and had it all to do again, would I still take the history classes? Probably. Definitely, if there was a hot guy next to me!

For true wisdom on setting yourself up to succeed in college, visit the advising office at the campus of your choice early.


About the author: Lisa R. (Brittain) Vasquez is the Chair of McKinney Magazine’s Editorial Committee and VP of Public Relations & College Development at Collin College.