By Heather Gadalla
Feeling overwhelmed with balancing degree requirements, program requirements, and electives in your college course schedule? Are you a first-year student with no idea how to begin picking classes? Either way, you're in the right place. Here are five tips for organizing your college course schedule!
Make sure to take into account your other responsibilities when organizing your college schedule!
Credit: Estée Janssens from Unsplash
Tip #1: Prioritize required courses
The last thing you want is to get to your last year of college and realize you haven’t completed your required courses in time to graduate. When planning your schedule as a freshman, make a list of all the courses you will need to complete to graduate and the semesters during which they’re offered. Then decide in which year you will complete each course.
Keep in mind that there may be different requirements for the program you are enrolled in and for the degree you will obtain. Make sure to look at your school’s website or talk to an academic advisor to keep track of them. When it comes time to plan your schedule each year, make sure you slot these courses in first. That way, you can choose electives that won’t interfere with the completion of your required courses, and ensure you are eligible to graduate when you’re ready.
Tip #2: Choose times of day when you function your best
A lot of freshmen sign up for 8:00am classes without blinking an eye during the course enrollment period, thinking that they are used to waking up early for high school. However, in college, where attendance is not always mandatory, waking up to attend these classes may feel much harder than it did in high school.
It’s useful to reflect on your study habits and when you are most productive during the day. Some students prefer to schedule all their classes in the morning, when their brain is most awake, whereas others prefer evening lectures. Choosing classes that align with your productive hours can help a lot when it comes to participating and actively engaging with lecture content.
Tip #3: Make time for breaks
Don’t forget to make sure you have time for breaks and meals throughout the day! It’s tempting to schedule all of your classes for one day back-to-back, but this often results in burnout. To help yourself retain information from your lectures, make sure to have breaks in your schedule so you can grab a bite to eat between classes. If you can, look at a map of your campus online and see whether there are study spaces, restaurants, or cafés nearby your classes that you can run to for a quick break between lectures. These small breaks in your daily schedule can help you feel more energized throughout the day and also give you a chance to socialize with friends between classes!
Finding a space to rest and recharge between classes can help you avoid burning out throughout the day.
Credit: Toa Heftiba from Unsplash.
Tip #4: Choose electives wisely
After you’ve penciled in all of your required courses, it’s time to choose your electives! It’s important to remember that your electives should be courses that you actually want to take.
Usually, students have a huge range of classes to choose from, which can make this process a little overwhelming. Talking to upper-year students can help you find interesting courses and great professors. However, don’t take a course that doesn’t interest you just because an upperclassman told you it was easy, as the level of perceived difficulty often varies based on your interest in the course topic. If possible, read the syllabus before enrolling in an elective. This can help you decide whether the course material is of interest to you, and whether the assignment schedule fits well with your other courses. Overall, it’s usually best to choose electives that you are genuinely interested in, as you will have an easier time getting the assignments done and will enjoy attending the lectures.
Tip #5: Decide what a realistic course load is for you
Although your college may specify what a full-time course load is, make sure to reflect on your personal circumstances before signing up for classes. If you have family obligations, a part-time job, or other things that take up your time, meet with an academic advisor to discuss the possibility of taking fewer classes each semester, or enrolling as a part-time student. However, make sure to read all of the requirements of any scholarships, financial aid, or other agreements related to your college studies that may require you to take a minimum number of credits per semester. Speaking with an academic advisor at your college can be helpful with making this decision, as they are trained in helping students navigate these decisions and are aware of the college's rules and regulations.
Hopefully these five tips ensure you have a smooth enrollment period and a well-organized schedule for your college courses. Good luck with planning your next semester!
Do you have a tried and true method to organize your college course schedule? Let us know in the comments or @Scientista_Talk
Heather is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, specializing in molecular genetics and microbiology and minoring in statistics. As a blogger for Scientista, she hopes to help forward their mission of empowering campus women in STEM. Outside of classes, Heather enjoys skiing, dancing, cooking, and spending time with her pets.
The Network for Pre-Professional Women in Science and Engineering
The Scientista Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) -- Donate!