Guide to Class Scheduling

With half of freshman fall under my belt, it’s time for me to start thinking about scheduling my spring semester classes. 

It was overwhelming trying to schedule my classes before freshman year since there were so many classes to choose from and so many different requirements that I have to fulfill by the end of my four years at WashU for a major I don’t even have yet. Being presented with all of the scheduling information at SOAR made my four years at college feel like they had already evaporated before they had even begun.

Here are some tips that will hopefully help you in scheduling your next [or first:)] semester’s classes:

1. Don’t shy away from large lecture classes or very small seminars.  As a freshman at least, many of the classes available are introductory classes with large lectures.  Coming from a relatively small high school where my average class size was 20, signing up for General Chemistry with 299 of my classmates was really nerve-wracking.  What if I have questions?  Will the teacher be going really fast?  Will the teacher be engaging?  Will I be able to see the board?  Where will I sit?  Do I brave the front row?  Will I become a delinquent if I sit in the back? Large lecture classes are nothing to be afraid of.  It’s nice being able to go into class anonymously, sit where you want, and just absorb the material, and there is still plenty of opportunities to have one-on-one time with your professors, if you seek these opportunities out.  That said, be sure to balance these large lecture classes with smaller classes.  In the large lectures, you really have to work to get to know your teachers and your classmates.  Two of my classes are about 15 people each, and it is incredibly easy to get to know your professors and really engage with them.  When you run into your classmates from your seminar, it really is such a squad.

2. Crowd source to decide which professors to take and which professors to avoid.  The best way is to talk to upperclassmen who have taken the classes before, but as a first semester freshman, upperclassmen aren’t exactly easily accessible.  RateMyProfessors.com is usually a good alternative.  Not all of the professors at WashU are on there, but you can get a pretty good sense of a professor from the reviews if they are on the website. 3. Think about how you want your day to be laid out.  This semester, I never have class before 10, and I have several one or two hour breaks in my schedule.  Next semester, I plan on starting my classes by 9 at the latest with no breaks in between classes.  For me, the one hour break isn’t enough time to really get anything done, and I would much prefer to have the entire afternoon to do work, workout, or spend time with friends than trying to squeeze it in during awkward gaps in my day.

4. Think about campus layout.  Often, classrooms aren’t assigned until a few weeks before the semester starts, long after you’ve chosen your classes, but look at previous semesters to map out your walk between classes.  Campus is gorgeous, but it can take a while to walk between classes, even in the allotted 10 minutes.  If you really love how your schedule is set out and find that you have long distances to travel, invest in a bike or a skateboard.

5. Take what you want, not what you think you have to take.  Don’t fart around first semester and just take fun, easy classes, but don’t think that you have to take the basics like you had to in high school.

6. Rising Freshmen in Art Sci Only: Take Advantage of the Freshman Seminars!  There are so many interesting topics, ranging from the Biology of Dog Breeds to the Nuremberg Trials.  The professors are hand-picked to engage freshmen, and the classes are usually capped at 15 people.

7. Rising Freshmen Only: Try a new language first semester.  I was very apprehensive about starting a new language the first semester of my freshman year, but my advisor really encouraged me to try it out.  I am so grateful I did!  There really is no better time to try a new language.  When it says “Beginning Spanish” or “Beginning Arabic” or “Beginning ______ *fill in the blank with the language of your choice*”, they really do mean beginning.  Yes, there will be the native speakers who bombed the placement test to have an easy class, but the teachers are really teaching you the basics of the language and know that the majority of the class is starting from scratch.

Good luck, and happy scheduling!

By Molly Isaac