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Submitting Course Preferences

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 requirements and recommendations.

Then review the First-Year Course Offerings to see courses that are available to incoming students. Be sure to check the Restrictions, Prerequisites, and Notes columns before you complete your preference form. All first-year course descriptions are available in the course offerings and in the Department/Program Description pages.

Continue reading the information on this page so you have a clear understanding of the process and expectations.
Choosing preferences
The following information will help guide you while looking for preferences:

Variety is important
- Colgate University prides itself on being a liberal arts institution. This means students must take a wide array of courses to earn a degree. In your first semester, we recommend that you try to take one course from each division (Arts and Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Social Sciences).

- Our staff members, with over 25 years of combined experience registering first-years, have seen that students who have a schedule loaded with courses from one division have less success in their first semester than those who choose courses from across the curriculum. Providing us with a wide variety of preferences will help us create a balanced schedule with courses of interest to you.

- If you have a particular major in mind, we encourage you to select a course in that department/program. However, in most cases, you do not have to take major-related courses in your first semester to be successful later on. The important thing is to choose course preferences that appeal to you.

- Every student will take one FSEM. Enrollments are kept small (15-18 students) so it's vital to provide us with a wide variety of FSEM preferences. This will ensure we can place you in one that is interesting to you and is open and fits your schedule.

- Keep in mind that FSEMs cover topics across the curriculum which may affect the balance of your schedule. Our staff will try to avoid registering you for more than 2 courses in the same division.
Example: 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 151-171 fulfill the Human Thought and Expression areas of inquiry).

- Students are expected to take one (and only one) CORE course per term through sophomore year.

- Remember that some FSEMs fulfill CORE requirements (FSEMs 100-142 are CORE equivalents). You should indicate some CORE preferences in both FSEMs and non-FSEMs so we can ensure you are registered for a CORE course, whether as an FSEM or regular course.

Writing & Language Requirements
- Students who are required to take a writing and/or a foreign language course will be informed of their status by the University Registrar. If you received notification, please read the information carefully to ensure you understand the expectations for your first semester. You can find details about these requirements on the Graduation Requirements page.

- If you must fulfill one or both of these requirements they will be one of your four courses, not a fifth course.

Health Sciences
- 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.

Course load
- First-year students will be registered for 4 full-credit courses, plus accompanying labs if applicable, for a maximum of 4.50 credits.

- Incoming first-year students are rarely permitted to take 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. Students will not be registered for more than 4.50 credits during the summer.

Course enrollments
- The average Colgate class size is 17 students. This allows for more intimate contact with field-leading professors but also means that we may not be able to accommodate everyone's highest preferences. This is one reason we ask for a variety of preferences. Even if we can't register you for a particular course, we want to make sure you are registered for courses of interest.

- A small number of courses have larger enrollments (e.g., 60-100). These courses provide a wonderful introduction to a particular discipline; however, students are encouraged to take 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. Our staff will make an effort to not register you for more than one large enrollment course.

Need more guidance?
- If you are having trouble identifying enough preferences, 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 fulfill a certain area 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 course preference form
Each page of the form gives instructions on how to complete each section. You will receive feedback if you have not chosen enough courses or rated enough in a particular category. Follow the prompts to accurately complete the form.

Your preference form will automatically save your progress (no save button or log out necessary) so you can start it and come back to it at a later time, if needed.

If you would like to give us information or guidance when we are creating your schedule, please use the Notes box provided at the end of each section.

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 submit again. (Your new submission will take place of any previous submissions.) 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.

If you have any questions or experience difficulty with the form, please contact us at or 315-228-7676.
Registration Group Order for the Class of 2022
The registrar's office will begin creating schedules for members of the Class of 2022 following the June 27 deadline. Preference forms will be processed according to the alpha groupings listed below. (Please note: preference forms received after the June 27 deadline will be processed at the end of their alpha group.)

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

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.

Schedule Availability:

An e-mail announcement from the registrar’s office will be sent to your Colgate e-mail when your schedule is available (approximately August 1). Schedule changes cannot 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 course preference form
Incoming students will not register on the portal for the fall term (no registration time ticket needed). Please submit the course preference form (submit button below) and the registrar's office will begin registering students after the June 27 deadline.

Course preference forms must be received by the registrar’s office no later than June 27.