As we all know, your class schedule can have a huge impression on what your semester will be like; it can affect your sleeping and eating habits, can control when you can work and for how long, and how much studying time you have. In fact, your schedule can be the catalyst for new habits and routines in college, which can last all the way up to graduation. In order to have the best habits, routines, and (of course) time management possible, you need to have the best schedule possible, but that’s a little hard to do if you don’t know what to do! My mistakes and successes in scheduling have taught me a lot about how to create the best schedule possible, and I’m going to share what I’ve learned with you!
1) Schedule as Early as Possible
I cannot tell you how important this is! I was one of the last freshmen to create my class schedule in the summer before college, and it was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. It took me forever to do because so many of the classes that I wanted/needed were already filled up, or there wasn’t a section available that would fit around another class that I had chosen. Some of the students that were scheduling at the same time as me couldn’t even get into classes in their major! When I finally did create a schedule, it wasn’t very cohesive; I had awkward amounts of time between my classes that were too small to get any work done, and my classes were spread apart so much that it dragged my day out much longer than it needed to be. In my second semester, however, I was one of the first students to create my class schedule, and it ended up being absolutely perfect! These schedules impacted my semester and routines so much, and it’s amazing the differences I felt between the two semesters. That’s why it’s important to schedule as early as possible, so that you can make sure that you get the classes you need at the times you prefer.
2) Avoid Early Morning/Late Night Classes
These are sometimes impossible to avoid, but if you have the chance, then try to not have them in your schedule. Many students find these hard to get through when they’re tired from the late night study session or work shift they had the night before. Sometimes you’ll just have days when you’ll want to be done with classes after a certain time, no matter whether you are a night owl or not. So if you can, avoid taking these classes if you know you won’t be able to handle them throughout the semester; you will thank yourself later.
3) Leave Time for Meals
If at all possible, leave time for meals in your schedule. College classes are hard and stressful, and skipping lunch (or any other meal, for that matter) can make them even more so. One of the best ways to set up meal times in your schedule is to have them at the same time as your friends; it’s a great opportunity to de-stress and socialize, and can significantly lift your mood before your return to any classes that you may have. In fact, having the same meal times as my friends was one of my favorite parts of my class schedule.
4) Finish Your Classes ASAP
One of the things that I disliked most about my first semester schedule is how spread out my classes were. I had awkward amounts of time between my classes (usually about 30-45 minutes) where I wouldn’t have enough time to get anything done, so I would often just be reading a book or playing on my phone outside of my next class. While a 30-45 minute gap might not sound that bad, consider how it was happening multiple times a week. I was literally losing hours of precious time where I could have been doing other things. This semester, on the other hand, I have all of my classes scheduled back-to-back, so on some days I am done before noon! Although some students may not like having it like this, I’d rather get my classes over with all at once so that I can have time to do more things later on.
5) Balance the Levels of Difficulty
If you’re a high school senior reading this, then just know that it doesn’t matter how well you balanced those 7 or 8 classes in high school, college is going to be much different. The workloads are much more intense, and some classes are going to demand much more time than others. You shouldn’t rush into college with a bunch of high-difficulty classes just to get them over with on your schedule; the last thing you want to do is crash and burn. Instead, create a schedule with both hard and easy classes, which will not only give you time outside of class to do things besides homework and studying, but will also help you to not feel as overwhelmed. College is all about learning to balance everything, and your schedule is one of the major ones.
6) Create a Mock Schedule Beforehand
When you go into scheduling, go with a good idea of what classes you want to take; take a look at the general education requirements you haven’t completed yet and (more importantly) the classes for your major. You need to be aware if any of your major’s classes aren’t offered in certain semester’s, because that can affect your schedule quite a bit. All schools display their schedule of classes before registration, so you can go through and see what classes and sections are available and make a “mock” schedule before registration. Having a mock schedule already created makes scheduling ten times easier.
7) Use RateMyProfessors
This website can be extremely important when scheduling your classes, but I do advise you to use it with caution. Many student’s use it to try to avoid harder professors by looking at student’s complaints, but these reports can be misleading, as the complaints may only pertain to that student. Instead, use the website to look at the professor’s teaching style, and then pick one (and therefore the class) that will be taught in a way that you will learn the best. This will help you avoid any stress from a class that is taught in a way you find hard to understand, and learning in your preferred style will give you a better education.
I’ve definitely seen and lived through great and terrible college schedules, so I can vouch how important these tips are for making the best schedule possible. No matter whether you are a continuing student or an incoming freshman, these tips can be very useful in creating the schedule that is best for you. Hopefully you will find them useful!
P.S. Have any comments, questions, or tips from your own scheduling experience that you would like to share? Let me know in the comments, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you!