It’s almost Thanksgiving, which can mean only one thing...

No, I’m not talking about decadent turkey dinners or a break from academic pursuits. I'm speaking of the ritualistic procedure of choosing college courses for the coming semester.

In many ways, this process is akin to the Black Friday rush. Hunching over my computer days, even weeks before the servers actually open, I’m compiling spreadsheet after spreadsheet of courses that pique my interest, fulfill a general education area, and/or bring me one step closer to completing the basic requirements for majors I’m eyeing but have yet to declare. I have to formulate and stick to a tight budget of time commitments, factoring in how much homework each class carries and the intensity of the work itself.

By the time I’ve finally come up with a plan of attack, I’m counting down until the scheduling servers open. When they do, I frantically log on to Self-Service, PIN in hand, navigating through cluttered menus and clicking “OK” to whatever prompts stand between myself and my target. Every millisecond counts, especially when it comes to the more popular items—once those 14 or so slots are filled up by peers, they’re gone for good (unless someone drops out, of course). If my timing is impeccable, then I’ll come out of the chaos with a guaranteed slot in every class I wanted; if I’m just a few moments too late, I’ll be lucky just to occupy a high-ranking slot on the waitlist. What fun!

That’s not even considering all the prerequisites one may need to gain access to special offers in the first place. Sending emails to professors I’ve never spoken with and gushing about how much I want to take their class and to please, please, please let me know if there’s anything I could do to improve my chances of getting in is par for the course. So is consulting with upperclassmen advisors who have been through the rigmarole enough times to give you solid advice on what options sound good but are actually a bit of a rip-off, what totally lives up to the hype and the best deals that no one knows about. But even then, no matter how much I’ve prepared and planned, I might not be able to get everything I want.

That’s the way life works, I suppose, but it doesn’t make it easier, does it?