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If you are ever on campus during weeks 6 or 7 of a Dartmouth quarter, you'll notice that there is one thing on every student's mind: course election. Course election at Dartmouth can be a complex process, but can be broken down into the following four steps:

1: Planning

There are lots of classes available each quarter, but some are offered only on certain seasons. So, making a Excel sheet of the classes you plan to take for the year is highly recommended so that you're on track to complete your major and distributive requirements. 

2: First Round of Course Election

Once the web application opens on your Student Portal, you're free to input your classes. At this point, there is no rush to finalize your decisions—the application stays open for one week and, as long as you submit before the deadline, there are no downsides to waiting until the last day. At this point, you're only allowed to enter the standard class load of three courses. If you're up for the challenge, you're able to choose a fourth class during the Course Changes period later.

3: Now We Wait

After the application closes, the college will run its algorithms to place students in classes based on several factors. Lots of things are considered, and some students receive priority to enter certain classes depending on their declared major, class year, and faculty priorities. Once this is done, the College sends notifications through the student portal to let everyone know that their schedules are ready!

In a way, getting your classes is a game of luck. Some quarters you get all three, sometimes two, sometimes one and, sometimes, you get zero… Thankfully, if you didn't get all your classes on the first go, or if you simply changed your mind, don't worry, there's still more to go!

4: Course Changes Period

Shortly after everyone receives their first-round of schedules, the course application will open once again except that, this time, there's no algorithm—it's a free-for-all, and it's first come, first served! 

The portal usually opens at 8:00AM sharp on a Friday, so most students are up and ready to go by 7:59AM, refreshing the website to make sure they're the first to input the classes. Getting a spot in a class is not guaranteed, so it's usually good to have back-ups in case the classes you were first thinking of fill up.

Even at this point, your schedule is not final. If you did not get a spot in a class you really wanted, you can email the professor and they'll often accommodate you, or put you on a waitlist and let you know if a spot becomes available. Plus, you're able to change your classes around at the start of the term with fair ease. So if you plan ahead a bit and communicate with your professors, you can have a schedule that works for you every time.

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