Creating the perfect schedule in college can be a challenging thing to learn to do. Especially since as a freshman you get nearly no control of you schedule. You’ll like be in some 8 am classes, you’ll have awkward time gaps, you’ll have class during major meal times, it will seem a mess. But as you go on with your college education, you gain more freedom over scheduling. Here’s how I plan my schedule to make my days as productive as possible.
1. Think about whether you what to front load or backload
Do you work better and get more done if you get your classes over with in the morning? Or do you really struggle to get out of bed in the morning? Think long and hard about which situation is best for you. Despite the fact that I’m nowhere near a morning person, I still choose to front load my schedule. I try and start around 9 am and shoot to be done by 1. Personally, I struggle to get work done until I’m done with my classes for the day. Additionally, I only work part time, so I can afford to wait until after 1 to go in.
If you know that you have a lot of specific times you can’t take classes, try looking into online courses. While certain major specific classes may not be available online, many gen ed classes are offered online. These allow you to work when you can, even if that means doing course work in the early hours of the morning.
2. Schedule realistic breaks
Are you capable of skipping lunch to get your classes done back to back? If you are kuddos to you, but most of us aren’t. If you’re in the majority, try and schedule short but present breaks between classes. Give yourself breaks so that you can have a bit of time to decompress and eat between classes. I always try to keep these around an hour so that I don’t feel inclined to nap.
However, when I end up having to take an 8am, I try and schedule a 2-3 hour break between this class and the next. It lets me head home and nap for a bit, along with getting around and feeling more out together.
I find it’s easier to understand how to work in breaks between classes by drawing out my schedule in a layout similar to the one above. I can make sure important things don’t overlap. I always try and add in my work schedule or required club/sorority events so I can make sure I don’t accidentally schedule classes during these times.
3. Pay attention to professors
Word spreads easily about the quality of certain professors. There’s always a few bad apples who aren’t the best educators. Unfortunately, this is even more common when you attend a research university. While all of the professors are highly educated, they’re not all great educators. Some of the particularly bright one can sometimes forget what it’s like to start understanding a concept, especially if you struggle with it. See what you can learn about your potential professors. If rate my professor is popular at your school you can always try looking there. If not, speak to some upperclassmen or friends who’ve taken the class before about whether or not they enjoyed their professor. Sometimes you can’t choose your professor, but when you can, try and do your research.
4. Talk to your advisor
It so important to talk to your advisor during the scheduling process. Personally, I had a bad advisor experience, and was able to reach out to a different advisor to switch. She was much more my speed and willing to help. See if your adviser can give you a copy of the recommended course schedule (if they have one) as this can help give you a guideline so you can remember which classes have pre reqs or are only offered once per year. If your major doesn’t have one of these available, ask for a copy of your required course list. You can then use this to make your own future schedule plan.
Talking to your adviser can also be very beneficial if a class gets full. They may be able to add you despite size restrictions. If they can’t, then it’s also possible they can find you another course that will fulfill the same requirement. When I couldn’t get into my required economics class freshman year, my adviser informed me that there was an agriculture economics class that would also fulfill the credit. This class had plenty of spaces available in it.
I ran into problems scheduling for sophomore year due to many of my gen eds being finished. My major is relatively small, and this means that certain classes were only offered once a year. As I switched majors, I didn’t have the ability to take some of the required classes as they weren’t offered the next semester. My adviser helped me communicate with a few professors in higher level classes, and go me into multiple classes without the pre reqs. While I’ll still need to take the classes next semester, I was also able to make sure I stayed in track to meet my expected graduation date.
5. Schedule as soon as possible
Scheduling is normally done in windows. These normally go according to grade level (seniors, then juniors, etc) but it can also go by gpa or other factors, especially if they split the windows even further. Schedule as soon as your scheduling window opens. This gives you the best possible chance at getting your goal schedule. Waiting leaves room for other to steal spots in classes your interested in and cause you to miss out.
These are all my best tips for how to create the best possible schedule for each semester of college.
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