If you have accepted your invitation to attend Sarah Lawrence College, chances are you already have an idea of what things are like around here. We do not do anything traditionally here, and our class registration process is no different. As a first-year (or first-semester transfer student), trying to navigate the confusing academic waters of the interviewing system can be challenging. This guide is meant to help you know exactly what to do and how to do it on your quest to get the perfect class schedule this semester.
In order to sign up for a class, Sarah Lawrence requires that you “interview” for it. Don’t be nervous, it is not you who will be interviewed—instead, you get to interview your professor! This is your chance to ask any and all questions that you might have for the semester to clear up any doubts you might have about the class’s workload and course material. Why get stuck in a class that you hate for a whole semester or even a year? The interview process aims to get you into classes that are right for you and, generally, serves this function. While one-on-one interviews with professors might sound a little bit intimidating, most professors are really easy to talk to and will give you all of the information that you need to make an informed decision come registration day.
In order to sign up for an interview, you must schedule a time slot with the professor of the class that you want to learn more about. Most professors provide a sign-up sheet on the door of their office where you can write your name down for a specific time slot. Other professors, especially professors who are teaching high-volume lecture classes, will hold group interview sessions where anyone can come, listen to a short talk about the class, and ask any questions that they may have. Signing up for interviews is the hardest part of the interview process since it requires that you roam around the school looking for professor offices, which are sometimes quite hard to find.
So, how exactly do you find your professor’s office? Never fear—on move-in day you will be given a full course catalogue as well as a list of all of this year’s professors and their office door numbers. In order to make this process go smoothly, make a list of all of the classes that you are interested in signing up for. As first-years, you will only be able to choose two classes (since your first-year studies course occupies one, year-long course slot), so there’s no way that you will need to go on more than three to seven interviews. If you chose only semester long classes, you will interview a second time in the beginning of the spring semester. Since your first-year-studies course is year long, you will be in the same boat with the number of interviews you will have.
Once you have your prospective course list written out, cross reference with the list of professors that you will be given and write down their office number next to the class name. Once that’s done, grab a friend, grab a map, and head out on a scavenger hunt for their offices. Reserve some time to do this—it may take you a few hours as offices are spread out far and wide across campus. Do not be afraid to ask faculty members or upper classmen for help if you cannot find something. Sarah Lawrence is a friendly place and people are usually quite helpful.
Make sure that you sign up for time slots that are not too close together, and that you do not double-book interview times. You will want enough time to get from one interview to another. Advice: do not forget about any of your interviews—it makes a bad impression on the professor who have a say in whether you get into the class or not.
So, now that you have your interviews all scheduled and ready, what actually happens during the interview? You will want to prepare a list of questions to ask your potential professors. You can compile a list of general questions that apply to all interviews, and some course-specific questions as well. Professors get grumpy and bored answering the same questions all day long, so try to make your questions as class specific as possible. Here is a list of some general questions that you can build off of:
How much reading is assigned per week? Per night?
Are there quizzes or exams in this course?
Besides conference work, how much writing will there be per week/per night?
What have students done for their conference work in the past? What will conference
work be like this year?
What books will we read in the course? How many of those texts are required (aka
how many books will I have to buy)?
How many students will be in the class?
Will there be any collaborative work or group projects?
What is your teaching style? How much hands-on work will we be doing?
How much of the class is discussion based?
With a proper list of questions to ask your interviewed professor, you should be set to get all of the information that you need in order to make an informed decision about choosing classes.
Once your interviews are done, you have to do a little bit of logistical planning before you can actually fill out your registration paperwork. Check the class’s time slots. You must be available at those times to attend class, and no other class may overlap. Often times, you will be barred from taking a class simply because it overlaps with your year-long FYS. Checking class time slots will help you narrow down how many interviews you will have to conduct.
When you have everything sorted and your registration paperwork all filled out with your first, second, and third choices, it is time to register. Registration occurs in the Esther Raushenbush Library, and, basically, you just have to wait in line until it is your turn to register (do not worry, registration is usually pretty quick). After that, it is just a waiting game to see if you have been accepted into the classes that you want. Usually decisions are posted the next day on MySLC. By logging in online using your student ID number and password and clicking the “My Courses” tab, you can see which classes you were accepted into.
Due to small class sizes and high demand for some courses, you might get bumped from a class. While this is definitely a major bummer, it is not the end of the world. You will be able to tell if you got bumped if only one or two courses appear on the “My Courses” page. The last weekend of orientation week is round two interviews. If you are bumped from one or more classes, this is your time to sign up for more interviews based on the list of remaining open classes. Usually, the selection is much much smaller on second-round interviews, but you can generally find something that will interest you. After repeating the interview process, you will be asked to list three options for each open slot in your schedule. While you are asked to list in order of preference, you are not guaranteed your first or second choice.
And there you have it! All of the tools that you will need for a successful interview week. Remember that faculty and upperclassmen are super helpful, so do not be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it. Our system can be quite confusing at times, but is easy to latch on to once you get the hang of it. Good luck interviewing this semester, and welcome to Sarah Lawrence.