Good advice

Robert Valentine
Senior lecturer
of advertisingRobert Valentine Senior lecturer of advertising

Column by Robert Valentine, Senior lecturer of advertising

By the end of next week, the entire student population of Murray State (including the campuses in Paducah, Hopkinsville, Madisonville, Henderson, Dubuque, Regensburg,  Beijing, Seoul, Belize and the Ross Ice Shelf) will be registered in classes for Spring 2016.

Well, that is the theory.

In practice, many students will not find the time in their busy schedules to visit their adviser and register for classes. Many popular classes, or classes at convenient times, will be gone. Happily, 7:30 a.m. classes, weekenders and 6 to 9 evening classes on Thursday are still available.

If you’re just getting around to realizing that there is another semester in the cards for you, you will be pleased to know that there is still time. Some of the people who went through the pre-registration pre-advising process forgot to then go online and register. Those opportunities are still there for you.

Seize the day.

The beginning of any Spring semester is filled with people who are trying to drop and add classes because they failed to take care of this vital piece of business in November. It’s tough enough when you pre-register – some classes may be canceled, for instance. Perhaps you decided to change majors and must now acquire a new set of classes. Perhaps you inadvertently failed to attend any English 105 classes – quite by accident, of course – and now find yourself barred from certain core courses in your new major. As the famous bumper sticker (revised version) reminds us: “Events Occur.”

Now, I am not giving advice.

As the great inventor Thomas Edison once pointed out: “People don’t take advice; people do what they want to do, and they overdo it one hundred percent. The world is badly overstocked with a lot of unused advice.”

I am only observing that, if you sought to get through college in four years taking the recommended 15 credit hours per semester, it will take exactly four years, or eight semesters.

This assumes that 1) you never change majors or minors; 2) you only take required courses; 3) you always earn at least a “C” or better; 4) you never drop a course; 5) you are the luckiest college student in the history of higher education.

Personally, I would schedule at least 5 years for a decent college education. While the Commonwealth of Kentucky officially believes that 120 hours of college credit will prepare you for a career of some kind, I think you need close to 140, just to be safe.

Even at 18 hours a semester, 140 credit hours is still eight semesters.

If you build in a semester to earn money or take an internship or study abroad, you’ll be happier with a 60-month plan. That’s a lot of money to spend on education, so you’ll have to spend it wisely and make every class count.

But if you’re committed to the Four-Year Plan taking an extra semester is far more expensive than showing up at your adviser’s door, taking the right classes and then working hard to pass them.

That’s right: pre-registering and then attending classes and studying for tests is easier and less expensive than an extra semester or two. Much less expensive.

If that makes sense, rejoice in the fact that it’s not too late to get next semester in order.

I know that January seems a far distant thing on a hazy, snow-covered horizon, but preparing for things that are three months away is good practice for your next big planning challenge: planning for retirement in 43 years.