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By John Shmuel

Biz & Tech Editor

Going to university presents you with lots of responsibilities: financial budgeting, time management, having to cope with feeding and clothing yourself. And a big part of it also includes selecting your electives every year for your program.

Electives are meant to break the mold of the same old routine. They give you new things to learn about while advancing you through your program. The great thing about them is you get to pick what you want to learn about.

Unless, of course, you chose an elective that is flat-out boring. Or terrible. Or a combination of both.

So, how to prevent yourself from enrolling in a course everyone else knows to avoid? There are a few options:

Ryerson requires all courses be subjected to the Faculty Course Survey (FCS), which allows students to rate their professor’s ability to teach the course. This was recently made available online so anyone can check a faculty’s rating.

If you’re looking to breeze your way through the year, then obviously you want to aim for the easiest electives. According to the FCS for 2005-2007, Sociology, Philosophy and French/Spanish all ranked near the top for lightest course loads, in that order.

Unfortunately, Ryerson doesn’t release results for each professor independently. Instead, you can only see a faculty’s combined results. Which means if you’re looking for individual course ratings, try the University of Toronto.

The internet also hosts many websites dedicated to talking about university courses and which ones to avoid.

One of the most popular websites for this is ratemyprofessors.com. The site lets you read feedback about a professor left by previous students, as well as writing your own.

In addition to prof ratings and reviews, there’s an active forum that will allow you to post a question about a particular course and teacher. So you know what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time.

It’s also important to follow all the deadlines set by the university. Once you’ve done your research, you want to make sure you can actually get into the course. Popular ones fill up fast, so pay attention to deadlines.

September 12 is the final day to enroll in a class or swap a class for a new one. After that you’re on your own. If a course is particularly terrible, or you’re struggling, you can always drop it later on (the deadline for this is October).

Although the first day of adding courses for first-year students has passed, here’s a tip for the winter semester. Make sure you wake up as early as possible to get the first pick of courses. There are plenty of lazy people in your program that won’t take the time or effort to become a scheduling genius. This is how you get Fridays off—even if it means taking signing up for a three hour lecture about Canada before confederation.

But what if you’re in your course, and find yourself way in over your head? Don’t panic. There is always help available at the school if you need it.

Ryerson’s Learning Centre provides free workshops to help you with things like time management, good study habits and avoid procrastination. They also have a tutor registry if you’re struggling with a course and need help fast.

Bar that, there’s plenty of helpful posters around campus that offer services like writing your essays for you. Although the Eyeopener certainly doesn’t recommend that. If that does sound like your cup of tea though, you should probably read the story on cheating and plagiarism.

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