Choosing Balanced Classes

Shopping week has kicked off and ended with a bang, so you saw old friends, old crushes, and old professors. Maybe you were inspired in some classes you shopped, falling into the professors’ cunningly-set traps.

We all know the first class is usually the most exciting. Maybe you’ve been going to all the welcome-back, free food events and have been, therefore, winning. Either way, regardless of how cringey, helpful, or exciting shopping week was, it’ll soon be over, and the semester will seriously ensue.

Remember all the stress of previous semesters? We tend to look back, having made it through the struggle(s), with rosy retrospection or remembering the semester much better than it actually was. We might gloss over the old mistakes, tell ourselves that the workload really wasn’t that bad, or that maybe the course that you had zero interest in was actually kind of...interesting...sometimes...maybe. Don’t let selective memory fool you; it is important to look back and be honest with yourself. Try to remember specific days; look through the older pages of your calendar and planner. You can even look through your text messages to get a real feel.

 

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This semester, be smarter. Choose a balanced courseload. Here are some tips for making the most out of your semester so that you can slay and werk all semester long.

 

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The Q-Guide is your new religion.

It’s all there: how engaging the professor is, how harsh grading is, how many hours per week people work, and much more. One of the most important things you can do on the Q-Guide is read through comments. The following comments, for example, are sometimes good indicators of what to do or not to do, “TAKE THIS COURSE!!!!!!!” and “DO NOT TAKE THIS YOUR LIFE WILL BE A CESSPOOL OF DEJECTEDNESS.” Provided, if you really are interested in a course, don’t let Q-guide comments be the only thing you look at--people who fill these out tend to feel more strongly about a course and thus might have more extreme opinions. Try out the course, but let Q scores and comments, especially consistent ones, be a sanity check.

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Grow some guts and make your unused groupchats on GroupMe Q&A.

You’re probably in several groupchats with, for example, clubs, study groups, friend groups, and more groups – if you’re not, you’re doing something terribly wrong. In all these groups, you have access to every other groupmates; these are expansive networks, so use them. Send a message asking whatever you want about a class or professor. Email lists, especially cultural groups’ lists, are also great places for this!

 

Think about the type of homework because you want to balance this too.

Some people love essays and take four essay courses, meaning they may churn out papers only all semester. If this is your thing, sure, go for it. However, most of us like some diversity in our workload to avoid it becoming overwhelmingly mundane. Most courses offer homework in the form of papers, projects, and problem sets. Try to take classes that vary in homework or that, at least, vary in the specifics of one type of work. For example, if you take three essay classes, try to choose ones with distinguishably different page requirements, or ample variation in topic. 

 

Calculate hours per week for each class and combine them all.

Actually sit down, add up all the time you’ll be in one class (includes lecture, section, lab, workshop, etc…), and add all your class’s hours together to calculate weekly time in class. This is a great way to manage your time. Next, with your big total, start to budget your time to get a sense of how busy you’ll be. You can budget things like estimated office hours, club meetings, parties, sleep, free time, and more.

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Purposefully leave extra time when you can.

Thankfully, things happen unexpectedly. Life gifts us with things we do not anticipate. Thus, purposefully leave yourself extra time in anticipation for those unexpected things that may require time. For example, you might want to try and leave time so that you have the option to join a club board, start a student group, or get a job. Taking courses that leave you with only enough time for eating and sleeping other than coursework is likely not your best bet.

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