Dear Class of 2017,
I sat down with the Registrar, Colleen Mallet, and she called up for me the pre-registration menu that you see when you sit down to pre-register. The instructions for pre-registering on the site are very clear, and you can re-arrange and rethink your course selections up until July 23. (There seems to be a discrepancy between the final date listed in the June mailing and what's on the Registrar's site. Since the Registrar runs pre-registration, the July 23 date is official.)
What I didn't know is that, unlike ordinary pre-registration cycles, the staff members in the Registrar's Office don't use a computer program to get incoming freshmen into classes: they do it by hand. They begin with the FWS selections, so first you will be placed into a FWS (if you've elected one) and then into your other courses. That means that they will do their best to get you into the courses you request, regardless of what section you put down. They will not enroll you into the same course twice (such as a FWS section of a given course and a non-FWS section). Nor will the Registrar's office put you into courses with time conflicts.
I hope knowing that real live people (and not a computer program) will be pre-registering you makes the process seem less stressful and less arbitrary. Also, remember that you will have a chance to change your schedule after you meet with your pre-major advisor and again during the drop/add period.