Choice of courses within an semester abroad in the USA

Class Crashing, Add and Drop Period, Academic Advisors – for many international students, the choice of course procedure is new territory for many universities in the USA. However, those who familiarize themselves with the choice of course in good time and deal with the course offerings in advance, will generally be able to choose a course during the semester abroad in the USA without any stress.

Class Crashing – a typical course selection procedure in the USA

At many universities and colleges in the USA, semester students are not able to register for courses from home before they start their studies.

This is due to the fact that students enrolled in a complete Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program at a U. S. university usually have priority over the choice of course because they have to follow the prescribed curriculum at the university.

Similar to many German universities, they can enrol online before the beginning of the semester.

Since semester students study only temporarily at the university, they are expected to be more flexible when choosing a course abroad in the USA.

The procedure of crashing courses

At US universities, international students are usually supported by an Academic Advisor. He advises on the choice of a course in the USA during the semester abroad and helps with technical questions.

The choice of course is made in consultation with the lecturers after the beginning of the semester. The lecturers decide whether to secure a place in their course for international students. There are basically two factors that have an influence on the decision: the number of available places in the respective course and the student’s previous technical knowledge. In order to get an impression of the qualifications of the international students, the lecturers consult the English-language transcript of the students.

Tips for Class Crashing in the USA

Particularly in popular disciplines such as business administration or psychology, the supply of teaching places is in some cases lower than the demand. Since the number of applicants differs from semester to semester, it is not possible to make a general statement about the chances of success. However, there are several tips on how students can increase their chances of landing in some of their preferred courses.

1. prepare well

It is worthwhile to take a close look at the courses offered by the U. S. university before you start your semester abroad in the U. S. and to make a list of potential desired courses. Generally speaking, the longer the list is longer, the better the chances of getting a place in several of the desired courses. In case the current course offerings are not yet visible, students can follow the previous year’s programme.

Important: It is essential to clarify the pre-selection procedure with the examination office and the professors of your home university and to ensure that the courses can be credited towards your studies and that the recognition of academic achievements is guaranteed.

2. attend as many courses as possible

Many universities in the USA have an Add and Drop Period of two to three weeks at the beginning of the semester. During this time it is advisable to attend as many courses as possible and express an interest in the courses.

Many local students change their choice of course at this stage and opt for courses. Therefore, it is quite possible that in retrospect some courses may become vacant. So it may be worthwhile to wait on the waiting list and continue attending the events.

3. contact with professors

Students who are friendly towards the lecturers and express their interest in the courses have a better chance of finding a place in the course. In addition, the chances of a commitment increase when students approach the lecturers alone and not in a group.

However, there is no patent recipe for a successful course choice. Some lecturers prefer to be contacted by e-mail, others are most likely to be convinced in a personal conversation after the event or during their office hours.

Alternative: Choosing a course in the USA before the start of the semester

Class crashing is not common at a few colleges and universities in the USA. Instead, it is possible to take courses in advance at these universities, similar to those in Germany.

The CSU Northridge, Boston University, Brooklyn College or Michigan State University, for example, can choose a course in advance. If there are problems with the allocation of individual courses, the universities usually contact the respective students and often propose alternative courses.

Regardless of which type of university students choose: Those who spend their semester abroad in the USA should have a certain degree of flexibility. Then the choice of course is always more relaxed.