My Spring Elective Journey 

Alex Caban-Echevarria headshot
Alex Caban-Echevarria

An endless list pops up when you search greater than or equal to 500 on the MySlice class search. Potential prefixes include MND, BDJ, JNL, TRF, VIS, MMI, ADV, PRL and AJC. For each prefix, some are only for master’s students in that program, some are at 9:30 a.m. (no matter how good a class is, last year I learned I am not a morning person so it’s only to my benefit to avoid classes that early), some require instructor approval, some require an application, some are just full. So that leaves a narrower list than what I started with, but take out the times when my one required class is scheduled (once a week at 12:30 p.m.), and that rules out a lot of options, too.  

Registering on that fateful Wednesday morning was chaotic to say the least. I had no idea I had a hold on my account, and once I cleared that up with the bursar, I pulled up my planner full of four classes and hit enroll. What came up on my screen was three red X’s and one green check mark. I got into one class. One class out of four that I painstakingly scoured and had my hopes set on. 

The one elective I wanted most, I did get. I had to look on the bright side. I had that one. But my required class was showing up full. What should I do? I emailed my program director and law professor (let me into this class, please!) but it was just a glitch and when I tried again in the afternoon, I was in. 

a person with their head in their hands looks at a computer screen
A student is overwhelmed by spring registration. (Photo by Alex Caban-Echevarria)

Now it was time to address the last two classes I needed to fill. Yes, I had spent four weeks reading the graduate course catalog, searching and writing down electives I thought were interesting. But, I still turned to my cohort group chat (MND Baddies) for advice. “What is everyone taking?” I asked, hoping that I could be in just one class with one other person I knew. What I ended up with is three classes once a week (thank you TRF lecture that saved me, please be interesting!)  

The way another graduate student created their schedule may have been similar. I heard that a lot of electives were all at the same time so it was mostly picking which one you wanted to take. I know most of my cohort signed up for the internship, so they had one less thing to worry about.  

Although I’ve come to Newhouse as a magazine, news and digital journalism master’s student, I’ve become more interested in graphic design and becoming a more visual storyteller. I’m always going to be a writer, but I’m defining that within and outside journalism. And by taking these classes I can continue to discover that. 

Alex Caban-Echevarria is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.