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Monday, October 15, 2012

College: 10 Tips for Scheduling Classes

I can't believe it's almost time to schedule classes again already. Registration for us starts at the end of the month and I'm already chomping at the bit for them to post the offered course list. Here are some tips for scheduling whether you're a freshman or scheduling for your very last semester.

1. Schedule classes according to when you work best
If you're a morning person, schedule classes for the morning. If you're not at your best until after noon, avoid early morning classes. It might take you a few semesters to figure out when that is at the beginning of your college career. My goal for next semester is have class from 10 to 12 and then 1 to 3 four days a week. It gives me time to sleep in a little in the morning and then gives me most of the afternoon for homework and whatnot.

2. Make sure you take care of required classes
I have a spreadsheet of classes that are required for my major, minor, and liberal arts. Yours doesn't have to be quite as in-depth as mine is, but you should definitely find some way to keep track of what classes you've taken and which ones you have left.

3. Give yourself time to eat 
When scheduling classes, keep an eye on how much time you have between classes. Look for breakfast, lunch, and dinner times. I have noon classes every day this semester and they make it difficult for me to eat lunch because I have to either eat early at 11 or late at 2.

4. Keep in mind typical meeting times and events
A lot of clubs have meetings in the afternoon and evening, and if you're in class you won't be able to attend. All evening classes won't be able to be avoided but it's one thing to keep in mind during scheduling. A lot of campus events are also in the evening.

5. Talk to your advisor 
Your advisor will be able to tell you which classes you need to be able to stay on track for graduation. They might also be able to give you advice on which classes should be taken when and make sure you don't miss out on any pre-requisites.

6. Talk to other students about classes/professors
If you can, talk to other students that have taken classes that you need to take. It's a great time to get information about the classes and when it's good to take them. We have one class that's notorious for being very difficult, so that semester I'm planning to cut back to 12 credits instead of my usual 16 so that I have more time to devote towards it. If different professors teach the same class, you can also find out the pros and cons of various professors. Just remember that opinions and teaching styles vary. A professor someone else hates, you might love.

7. Register on time
If you have time slots for registration, use yours. You don't want to wait a couple of days and find out that all the classes you need to take are full. Some classes fill up faster than others, especially with liberal studies and ones that everyone needs to take for their major.

8. If a class is full, there's still a possibility
Sometimes professors will allow in extra students to a full class. Just send an email or visit them during their office hours. Remember, the worst they can do is say no. You can also keep an eye on it. People change majors, drop classes, change time slots all the time. Around here, people check classes after grades are finalized (in case someone had to drop a class because they failed a pre-req) and after tuition is due (if you don't pay on time, all your classes get dropped).

9. Watch locations
If it's listed, look where a class is going to be held and work out which buildings you'll be in when. Nothing is worse than checking your schedule on the first day and realizing that you have to make it all the way across campus in ten minutes. Some classes here require you to catch a bus, something that's best not attempted in the ten minutes before you need to be in class.

10. Don't over-tax yourself 
Keep an eye on how many classes you're going to have each day and be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Some days will be tougher than others. I refer to Mondays as my "death days" because I have class from 9 to 5 with only two one-hour breaks in between. This also applies to overall credits and the difficulty of classes. Try not to schedule all of your roughest classes in the same semester.