On my first day of college, I thought I knew everything that there was to know about college, time management, and about myself. Oh, how wrong I was. I knew nothing when I was a freshman, but thankfully over time, I’ve learned a few things here and there during my 6-year college journey.
One thing that I’ve learned is how to create the perfect class schedule. Your class schedule in college is so important! It’ll literally control your entire life from top to bottom. Here’s how to craft the schedule of your dreams:
- Sign up for classes as early as possible
When it comes to scheduling and signing up for classes, make sure you do them as soon as you are able to. Most colleges allow students to sign up for classes in order of their class rank. So for example, seniors will be allowed first to sign up and freshmen will be last. That being said, you can still get great time slots and your preferred classes regardless of the date/time of sign up. You just need to be quick to sign up when your class rank is allowed to do so.
The best way to be prepared for registration today is to plan ahead of time of how you want your schedule to look based on what’s available. I’ve been in college for 6 years now and only once have I not gotten a class that I wanted. I wanted an organic chemistry class with a specific teacher my sophomore year, and I ended up having to take a class that started at 7:30 pm that lasted two hours.
- Plan for meal times
Always make sure to leave some extra time in your schedule for a quick bite to eat somewhere. Most colleges have loads of food options around campus, but the lines can get pretty long quickly. I used to block out around 1-2 hours around lunchtime so that way I could enjoy my food before my classes would start. The same goes for breakfast!
- Figure out the locations of the classes
College campuses are usually pretty big so it’s easy to have one class on the west side and another on the exact opposite of campus. When you’re planning out your schedule for the semester, make sure to double-check the buildings that the classes will be held. It’s easy to forget that small piece of information and sign up for classes that are far away from each other.
- Create an outline of the credits required for graduation
Before you begin creating your schedule for each semester, make sure you have a complete or outline of your major’s graduation requirements. Your advisor will normally also help keep you on track, but I wouldn’t rely solely on them to know everything that you need to take. The academic advisor advises hundreds of students with the same major, so they might forget something or not remember your academic story during your meeting. A lot of majors will have all of the class requirements online so it’s super easy to print it out and keep somewhere safe. I like to create my own schedule based on what classes I wanted to take and needed during the year.
- Balance the level of difficulty between classes
The biggest advice that I can give you about balance is that you have to understand and learn your limitations on what you can handle during a semester. When building your college schedule, you want to balance the difficulty levels of all of the classes that you want to take. I wouldn’t suggest taking more than 1 or 2 hard classes in a semester or multiple classes in a similar field that you struggle with. During my sophomore year in college, my advisor wanted me to take three science courses (physics, anatomy, and organic chemistry) in 1 semester. I think he was trying to kill me! I have to study a lot for science-related courses, so I knew for myself that I was only going to be able to take 2 at a time if I wanted to make sure I passed everything. Plus, you won’t want to overload yourself with a bunch of hard classes and make yourself more stressed out than you need to be.
- Take fun or unique classes whenever you can
College is supposed to be fun and it’s okay to take a class or two that you actually find interesting during your time in college. Sometimes you can find unique courses that can actually count towards your graduation requirements, which is always a plus. But even if it doesn’t count for the requirements, take a class on a topic that you know you enjoy or try something completely new. You never know, you might find out that you actually like one class over another and change your major accordingly. You just never know so you might as well take a chance every once in a while.
- Consider your current or future work schedule
A lot of students work through college, whether it be part-time, full time, on-campus, or off-campus. Anytime that you are planning out your coursework, always keep into account your current or future work schedule. I used to always work in the evenings, so I tried to always have my classes end around noon or 1 pm so I could have enough time to go to work. But you could easily have a completely different schedule. Regardless of your work situation or schedule, always try to plan for your hours in your class schedule.
- Always have a back-up plan and be flexible
Always plan for the unexpected when it comes to planning out your life and especially your school schedule. That class that you wanted might be booked up by the time you register for classes. When I was in undergrad, I always made a back-up schedule just in case something went wrong in my original plan. The best way to do this is when you’re signing up for classes, sign up for everything that was on your “want” list and then make the necessary changes afterward. This way, you can at least most of the classes that you wanted before the classes get filled up.
Scheduling for your college classes can be pretty stressful, but honestly as long as you have a plan, it’s not that bad. Do your research, plan ahead of time, and check-in with your advisor any time that you’re having a crisis. I promise, no matter what, it will all work out in the end.
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