So Hoos Asking: How Does My First-Year Student Register for Classes?

June 25, 2024
Students gathering on the Lawn for summer orientation

During the 10 Summer Orientation sessions, the first beginning Monday, incoming students have the chance to learn more about life on Grounds. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)

The University of Virginia will begin welcoming members of the Class of 2028 at Summer Orientation beginning Monday, the first of 10 sessions.

During the visits, most of which include an overnight stay in a dorm, students will enjoy tours of Grounds, eat meals with current students and learn about life at UVA.

Most students also will register for some of their classes while at Summer Orientation.

UVA Today reached out to experts across Grounds to share how class registration works in different schools and departments and what students can do ahead of time to prepare for their academic enrollment.

Most Wahoos will arrive at their orientation sessions having been pre-enrolled in some courses in their school of study.

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One of students’ biggest concerns is that most spots in courses will be filled if they attend a later orientation session.

That is not the case. 

The University makes 10% of seats available in each of the 10 sessions, “So the person in our last orientation session is getting the same percentage chance of getting in a course as someone in the earlier session,” said Judy Giering, the interim associate dean of undergraduate student services in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The College is UVA’s largest school, welcoming about 3,000 students this year. Here is what Giering shared about class registration for that school.

The College of Arts & Sciences

“Incoming first-year students actually go through a pre-registration process before they come for orientation, at which time they are pre-enrolled in up to nine credits of classes based on a survey that they fill out and submit,” she said. “This is really an effort to ensure that students are getting some of the most basic requirements that they need their first year.” 

During orientation, students can enroll in more classes, totaling up to 15 credits. “So, for most students, that looks like adding two more courses at that time,” Giering explained. Advisers and faculty will be on hand to answer student questions.

As far as advice on preparation, Giering had this to say:

“We send out some communications to all incoming first-years. One of the things that we do is give them access to a brief primer on our general education requirements,” she said. “We encourage students to actually go through that and understand how our general education systems work.”

The College has a new website that can be helpful. “Part of that website has information on majors and prerequisites for those majors,” Giering said. “I think some time spent looking at that resource would also be helpful.” 

The School of Engineering and Applied Science

As with the College, the Engineering School also pre-enrolls students in some courses ahead of Summer Orientation.

“We basically pre-enroll them in a more or less full-time load worth of credits, with the expectation that if nothing changes, all they really have to add is one elective, typically a humanities elective,” William Guilford, the associate dean for undergraduate affairs, said.

He said a humanities elective is not a requirement. It’s a suggestion.

“The words I use with students is ‘Remember UVA is one of the finest liberal arts institutions on the planet. It would be a shame not to avail yourself of that,’” Guilford said. “We also remind them that one of the things that employers value about a graduate of UVA Engineering is their broad, multi-disciplinary perspective, that it’s not just all about their technical prowess and their math abilities, but about their understanding of the world around them.”

New this year, the Engineering School, which typically enrolls about 700 students, is piloting a new class management system called Stellic

“Right now, students can explore their pre-enrolled class schedule and it helps them find, say, humanities or social sciences courses in certain time blocks or that meet certain criteria,” Guilford said. “It’s really great for helping them find classes that fit their schedule.”

The School of Nursing 

The small school, which is welcoming more than 70 students this year, hosts a pre-enrollment Zoom and talks students through their options so that, when enrollees arrive on Grounds for orientation, they are ready to sign up for their courses.

“They have to take three required nursing courses in the fall,” explained Teresa Carroll, senior assistant dean for academic and student services. If their last name starts with a letter in the first half of the alphabet, students must also take a writing course required of all first-year students during their first semester.

School of Architecture

The school’s nearly 90 new students arrive having already been preregistered in four courses and will follow the same course as the School of Nursing with regard to enrolling in a writing course. 

“And then they will pick another class, one from either a humanities elective, a math elective, natural science or social science, or an open elective of their choice,” Tashana Starks, the school’s director of advising and academic support, explained. 

Department of Kinesiology 

Kinesiology is the only direct-admit program for first-year students in the School of Education and Human Development. 

Advisers contact students ahead of their orientation sessions to explain what courses they should register for. 

“If I had one piece of advice to any incoming student, it would be, ‘Figure out how to use the Student Information System,’” said David Edwards, the director of the undergraduate program, referring to the software students use to register for classes. 

All of the new students will register for Introduction to Kinesiology. They’ll also take Biology 2100 and likely either a statistics or calculus class. 

“It’s always a fun experience when students come on board because it’s so new for them,” he said. “It’s the beginning of their academic journeys, so there’s some apprehension and stress.”

Faculty, students and staff will be on hand to help all students as they register for their first courses as Wahoos.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications