Cross-registering at Olin

I often get asked about cross-registering to Olin: “What’s it like?” “How do I do it?” “What classes should I take?” So I figured I would make a helpful guide for Babson students.

Overview

  • All undergraduate Babson students can cross-register to the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering at no additional cost.
  • You can earn a Certificate in Engineering Studies.
  • It is challenging and rewarding.

Why cross-register?

Olin College is a highly ranked engineering college. In 2015, it tied for 3rd Best Undergraduate Engineering Program (at schools where doctorates are not offered) by U.S. News & World Report.

Cross-registering is a great way to explore subjects that aren’t part of the Babson curriculum. It’s possible for Babson students to earn a Certificate in Engineering Studies from Olin by completing five courses at Olin (more on this later). You can think of these certificates as the equivalent to a Babson concentration or an academic minor. You can even include your certificate on your résumé and it can be a big differentiator when applying for jobs — especially if you’re interested in a career in tech. Know that you don’t have to pursue the certificate in order to cross-register. You can take just one Olin course if it’s something specific that you’re interested in.

Overall Academic Plan

Before you actually sign up for a course, you need to make sure it fits into your overall academic plan and your schedule.

It’s important to know how Olin courses count towards your Babson degree. Most Olin courses are counted as Free Electives or Advanced Liberal Arts credits. Click here for the Babson-Olin Credit Conversion Table.

What you’ll need: The credit-conversion table and your degree checklist.

If you’re considering a certificate you should try to plug it into your Degree Worksheet right away. Make sure you cross-check it with these details about the certificate program. It can be tricky to make an Olin certificate fit in your plan with a Babson concentration. I originally intended to also do the TED concentration at Babson but decided against it because it was hard to fit both into my overall academic plan.

You are only allowed to take one Olin course per semester. If you are interested in earning a certificate, I would recommend getting started in your sophomore year. It is possible to take two at once if you petition to your dean for an exception but don’t bank on this. You should absolutely speak with your class dean about your interest in the certificate before you try to petition. Some courses are only offered in the fall while others are only offered in the spring. Lastly, the registrar does also recommend against taking an Olin course in your final semester.

Scheduling

The two colleges operate on different schedules, which can be annoying. Babson courses are typically Monday-Wednesdays or Tuesday-Thursdays while Olin courses are typically Monday-Thursdays or Tuesday-Fridays. It’s worth noting that Babson students typically don’t have classes on Fridays while Oliners typically don’t have classes on Wednesdays (but these days fill up quick with meetings). Scheduling pains can be felt at the period block level too. For example, one semester I got out of a Babson class at 3:15 and had race to an Olin class that started at 3:20.

My schedule last semester. The Olin course (in blue) met on Mondays and Thursdays which meant I couldn’t take any Babson courses that met between 3 and 6pm.

If you commit to earning a certificate, you should select courses each semester by picking the Olin course you want first and then building the rest of your schedule around it. This did keep me from taking a few Babson classes I wanted to take but, for the most part, I was able to make it work.

Registration

Hooray! You’ve thought about your overall academic plan and you know you want to take an Olin course next semester.

Here’s where it can get annoying. The two colleges’ schedules are, again, slightly out of alignment. The registration process at Babson usually begins a few weeks before it does at Olin. This means that you won’t have access to the Olin course catalog until after you’ve registered for your Babson classes. Not to worry.

As a workaround, assume that the Olin courses are offered at the same time and on the same days of the week as the year before. This worked for me for the most part, but be cautious because things may get moved around. You should register for a full set of Babson courses knowing that you will have to drop one later to make room. You should not leave a gap in your schedule where you expect to plug in an Olin course. If necessary, you can schedule your lowest priority Babson class during the same time as the Olin class you want to take. On the form to cross-register there is a field for entering the Babson course you would like to drop in exchange for the Olin course.

What you’ll need: The Olin course catalog (distributed in PDF format).

Unlike at Babson, you cannot find Olin’s course catalog online. Instead, a “Supplement and Course Offerings List” is distributed by email in PDF format (Example from last year). The best way to get your hands on this document is to email the registrar at Olin. When you do get this PDF you should double-check that the course you want is scheduled when you assumed it would be.

Finally, after you’ve confirmed that the class you want fits, you will need to submit a “Petition to Cross-register” via the Babson Hub. You can find this form here: Hub Home > Quick Links > Petition to Cross-register.

Great! You’ve done your part. Now you will need to wait for the Registrar’s Office to handle things on its end. This may take a few days. You should receive an email from the Registrar confirming your place.

What to expect

Congratulations! You just registered for an Olin course! There are few things you should know before your first class:

  • To Oliners, Babson students are known as “Babbies.”
  • Business and engineering students have two distinct, domain lexicons. It can feel as if you are speaking different languages. An ability to “translate” between the two is invaluable.
  • Bullshit doesn’t fly. Be technical and accurate or suffer the embarrassment. This is easy to avoid: Just ask for help!
  • Olin courses are not managed with Blackboard. Instead they use homegrown websites. These websites are outdated and do not rank high on user-friendliness. You should set aside 10 minutes to poke around your course’s site to make sure you know where to find everything.
  • Email is, as you know, a total blight to humanity, and Oliners love the stuff. It’s totally irrational. They don’t use Gmail either; they use Microsoft Outlook. Expect to receive lots of emails.
  • In many ways, the relationship between Babson and Olin is in need of repair. Your participation in an Olin course is a great way to help improve our relationship with them!

Conclusion

My cross-enrollment experience at Olin has been phenomenal. I am partway through my fifth course at our neighboring institution. Olin courses have pushed me to think critically about the technical details of products and services and has strengthened my understanding of the design process.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have about cross-registering at Olin. The best way to reach me is through Facebook Messenger (even if we aren’t Facebook friends).

Me and my HFID team :)
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