How to Choose Your College Class Schedule

How to Choose Your College Class Schedule

By Steve Bailey

Published on January 28, 2021

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Making sure your next college semester goes smoothly requires a sound plan when it comes to scheduling classes. This means thinking about several factors that could affect your day-to-day schedule, your ability to meet nonacademic obligations, and your path toward graduating on time.

Read on to find tips related to registering for classes and planning out your college calendar. In many cases, an academic advisor or online college schedule maker can help with this process. However, be sure to keep the following factors in mind throughout the registration process.

Research Classes and Professors

When planning your schedule each college semester, spend time doing research to determine which classes you should take. Make sure each potential course fits within your degree completion plan, read each course description carefully, and seek feedback from others.

Ask your friends, classmates, roommates, and fellow dorm residents about their experiences with certain courses and professors.

Ask your friends, classmates, roommates, and fellow dorm residents about their experiences with certain courses and professors. This input, while subjective, can give you a sense of which classes and instructors provide value and which you should avoid.

You can also learn more about professors and courses from reviews students leave on databases and websites, like Rate My Professors.

Prioritize General Education Requirements

In your first and second year, your college calendar may focus mostly on general education classes rather than major courses. General education courses give students a well-rounded educational experience, offering a sampling of a variety of subjects and disciplines.

Taking general education courses first can help you decide which major presents the best path forward for you. Although you may have a sense of which program you want to pursue — or already be enrolled in a specific degree path — some students decide to change their majors once they take a class on a subject they've never been exposed to in the past.

Have Backup Options

As soon as you pick a major, start sketching out which courses you need to take each semester until you graduate. Most schools provide online scheduling tools to help visualize these options.

Keep in mind that some classes can be competitive, and you may need to sign up for a waitlist. To that end, have backup options ready in case your preferred classes fill up before you have a chance to enroll in them. These backup classes should also fit into your college calendar and degree plan.

Find the Right Balance

As you plan your college calendar, be sure to strike a healthy balance in your schedule and course load so that you do not get overwhelmed as the semester progresses. Take a mix of easier and more challenging classes, but make sure all of them interest you and fit into your degree plan.

Avoid taking so many classes that you have little time for anything else — even the most talented and hard-working students need breaks.

Try to avoid taking so many classes that you have little time for anything else. Even the most talented and hard-working students need breaks, and packing your college calendar can quickly lead to burnout. Carve out time to relax, socialize, and meet your nonacademic obligations.

You can also try and pick classes that let you keep to a strict schedule or enjoy built-in days off. For example, some students like to spread their classes evenly across the week, while others prefer to only have classes three or four days each week. Keep this in mind as you plan out your next college semester.

Be Realistic About Class Times

Pay attention to the time of day each class takes place. If you don't consider yourself a morning person, you may want to avoid classes that start at 8 a.m. If you tend to take part in a lot of social, extracurricular, or work activities later in the day, you may need to stay away from late-afternoon or evening classes.

Many first-time students forget to consider the location of each class when planning their college semester. Campuses can be quite large, and you need to ensure you have enough time to walk from one class to the next. Also, think about when you will eat so that you avoid scheduling back-to-back two-hour lectures in the middle of the day, forcing you to skip lunch.

Finally, be realistic about how well you can focus after a certain amount of time in class. If you find that your attention starts to wander after two hours of consecutive class time, you may need to arrange your college calendar so that you have extended breaks throughout the day.

Register Early

Don't procrastinate when scheduling classes. Plan out your college calendar well in advance of registration day and have backup options ready. Consider getting up early and logging on to your school's online college schedule maker at the very beginning of your allotted registration window to give yourself the best chance of securing the classes you need/want. Remember, registering for high-demand classes can be competitive.

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Feature Image: JenJ_Payless / Shutterstock

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