First Year Schedule Skip Navigation

How to Register for Fall Courses

Click on the headings below for information about completing the registration process.
Where Do I Start?
Start by reading the Graduation Requirements and the Department/Program Descriptions so you have a sense of the requirements and expectations to earn your degree at Colgate before choosing your first semester courses.

First-year students register for 4 full-credit courses, plus accompanying labs if applicable, for a maximum of 4.50 credits. Incoming first-year students are strongly discouraged from taking more than 4.50 credits in the first semester. If there is a critical educational reason for taking more than 4.50, the possibility must be discussed with your FSEM instructor/academic adviser during drop/add at the start of the term. More information about this will be available when drop/add information is posted in August.

The average Colgate class size is 19 students and FSEMs typically have enrollments of 15-18 students. A small number of courses have larger enrollments (e.g., 60-100) to accommodate high student demand. These courses provide a wonderful introduction to a particular discipline; however, students are encouraged to register for no more than one of these larger classes in the first semester. These courses are indicated as a "Large enrollment section" in the Notes field of the course offerings.

Please review the First-Year Course Offerings to begin planning your schedule. We ask that you only consider courses listed on the First-Year Course Offerings as they are the only courses that are open and available to you. Be sure to check the Restrictions, Prerequisites, and Notes columns before you make your course selections. All first-year course descriptions are available in the course offerings and in the Department/Program Description pages.

Choosing Courses:
Begin by compiling a list of courses that interest you, then narrow those down to four preferred courses (one of which must be an FSEM). Be sure to check the days and times (“starts” and “ends” columns) of your four preferred courses to ensure they do not conflict. The Colgate day/time schedule is available here to assist you in mapping out your schedule.

Alternate Choices:
Choose your alternate course selections from the remaining courses on your list. Do not worry about time conflicts among alternate course selections. You must fill in all alternate choices. An alternate course should be a different course title, not the same course offered at a different time (i.e., different section).
Creating a Balanced Schedule
Compiling a good schedule can often be confusing. Colgate University prides itself on being a liberal arts institution. This means that students must take a wide array of courses to earn a degree. Your first semester is the best time to explore what Colgate has to offer while fulfilling graduation requirements along the way. Think about this as you choose your courses.

Our staff has over 30 years of combined experience in registering first-year students and helping them create a balanced schedule. We’ve seen that students who load their schedule with courses from one division have less success in their first semester than those who choose courses from across the curriculum. Give your schedule some balance.

Use the guidelines below to help plan a balanced schedule:

FSEM: Keep in mind that FSEMs cover topics across the curriculum which may affect the balance of your schedule. The RO staff strongly discourages students from registering for more than 2 courses in the same division. For instance, if you plan to take PHYS 131 and MATH 161, you should avoid science-related FSEMs. In this case you may want to consider FSEMs that fulfill other areas of inquiry requirements (e.g., FSEMS 146-171 fulfill the Human Thought and Expression areas of inquiry).

CORE: Students are expected to take one (and only one) CORE course per term through sophomore year. Remember that some FSEMs fulfill CORE requirements (FSEMs 100-139 are CORE equivalents). If you listed mostly CORE FSEMs then it's not necessary to list CORE selections for your non-FSEM choices. The registrar's office will try to ensure you are registered for a CORE course, whether as an FSEM or regular course.

Other courses: You should choose two (or three if your FSEM counts as a CORE) other courses of interest. We recommend that you try to take one course from each division (Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences). If you have a particular major in mind, we encourage you to select a course in that department/program (though it's not always critical to take a course for an intended major in the first semester). Otherwise, choose courses that appeal to you, keeping in mind what area of inquiry they may count toward.

Students who are required to take a writing and/or a foreign language course will receive a letter from the University Registrar informing them of their status in late June. If you received a letter, please refer to it for registration information as you must include a WRIT and/or foreign language course in your schedule. If you must fulfill one or both of these requirements they will be one of your four courses, not a fifth course.

Students who are interested in the health sciences (or pre-med) are encouraged to carefully read the Health Sciences description. If you still have questions regarding appropriate course selection, please contact Dr. Julie Chanatry (, the chair of the Health Sciences Advisory Committee.

Alternates: We make every effort to register you for your preferred courses but many factors complicate our ability to accommodate every primary choice. Therefore, the nine required alternates gives us enough information about your interests to allow us to create a balanced schedule. If you are having trouble finding enough alternates, this is the time to start exploring courses that you might not have previously considered. You can begin reviewing course descriptions (some courses may surprise you) or look at the Program/Department pages; use the filters available on the course offerings to find courses that fit in a time slot you have available or to search by areas of inquiry; think about opportunities that may require pre-requisites that you can start now (e.g., the study group to China requires a year of language study). If you continue to struggle, you can reach out to a Summer Adviser or our office ( or 315-228-7676, or x7408).
Guidelines for completing the registration form
You will need the CRN (5-digit course reference number - available in the course offerings) of each primary and alternate choice in order to complete the registration form. See below for more specific information about CRNs.

List your first choices on the “Preferred” lines of the registration form. Refer to the  day/time schedule grid to ensure that your preferred courses (and their accompanying laboratory sections, if applicable) do not conflict.

List your alternate courses on the “Alternate” lines of the registration form. We make every effort to register you for your preferred courses but many factors complicate our ability to accommodate every primary choice. Therefore, the nine required alternates gives us enough information about your interests to allow us to create a balanced schedule.

For courses with multiple sections (e.g., CORE 151, CORE 152, CHEM 101, ECON 151), the registrar’s office staff will first try to register you for the section indicated on your registration form. If that section is closed or conflicts with another of your courses, or if we need to assure an even distribution of students among the sections, we may place you in another section. Please do not provide alternate courses that are different sections (same course offered on different days/times) of your preferred course.

CRN: Every course section has a unique numeric identifier called the Course Reference Number, or CRN for short. You can find the CRN for each course section in the First-Year Course Offerings. We will use the CRN to register you for your courses and that is what you will enter in the registration form. After you enter in a valid CRN, the rest of the course information will auto-fill for you. It's easy to transpose numbers when entering the CRN so it's important that you double check the auto-filled information to ensure it is the course you are expecting. The registration form will attempt to guide you in entering valid CRNs. You will receive an error message and the CRN box will turn red if you try to enter an FSEM CRN in the non-FSEM block, and vise versa. You will also receive an error and red box if you enter a CRN for a course that has not been designated as a first-year course. As long as you use the First-Year Course Offerings, you shouldn't have an issue with valid CRNs. Valid CRNs will turn the CRN box green. You'll be permitted to submit your form once all CRN boxes are green.

Courses with labs: A number of courses (particularly in the natural sciences) have required laboratory sections. The labs are designated by the course number followed by an L (e.g., CHEM 101L is the required lab associated with CHEM 101) and, in most cases, carry 0.25 course credits. If you want to register for a course with a lab, enter the lecture CRN first. Then select your preferred lab section from the drop down box title "Select Lab" on the same line. Labs should not be entered on their own line. The normal, required course load for first-year students is 4.00-4.50 course credits. 

The registration form: You can save your registration form if you need to take a break or do more research before submitting. If you would like to give us information or guidance when we are registering you, please use the Notes box at the bottom of the form. As stated above, all CRN boxes must be green before you will be permitted to submit your form.

Once you submit your form, the registrar's office will receive your selections. If you've submitted your form and need to substantially amend your selections, you can resubmit your form with the edits. In this case, you should indicate "Revised Copy" in the Notes section so that we can ensure it is used in place of your original submission. If you have a minor change, you can email If you aren't sure if your changes are substantial enough to require a resubmit, please email or call and we will help determine the best course of action.
Registration Group Order for the Class of 2021
Registration for the Class of 2021 will begin following the July 12 registration form deadline. Registration forms will be processed according to the alpha groupings listed below. (Please note: registration forms received after the July 12 deadline will be processed at the end of their alpha group.)

Group Last Name Range
Group 1
Last names beginning S-Z
Group 2 Last names beginning A-D
Group 3 Last names beginning E-K
Group 4 Last names beginning L-R

Note: The registration order will be different each term. The alpha groups will “roll” for each term’s registration, thereby ensuring that each alpha group has the opportunity to be first once in the first four terms of enrollment, and first once in the last four terms of enrollment.

An e-mail announcement from the registrar’s office will be sent to your Colgate e-mail account when your schedule is available in late July/early August. Schedule changes will not be made during the summer. You will have the opportunity to make schedule changes during the drop/add period (at the start of the fall semester) after you've been formally advised by your FSEM instructor/academic adviser.
Submit your registration form
Incoming students will not register on the portal for the fall term (no registration time ticket needed). Please submit the registration form (submit button below) and the registrar's office will begin registering students after the July 12 deadline.

Registration forms must be received by the registrar’s office no later than July 12, 2017.

If you have already submitted your registration form and need to submit an updated copy, please indicate "Revised Copy" in the Notes section so that we can ensure it is used in place of your original submission.