[This is #2 of Back To School Series.]
Picking your classes and arranging your schedule always determines how well you can do in class, and how you are able to manage your time. And of course, both of which will greatly determine your GPA. On our second post on the Back To School series, I would like to start off with some basic tips on class scheduling in order to start your academic year right. Here are some things you would need to consider before picking and scheduling your classes.
Choosing Your Courses
Check your options, and read course descriptions
The first step is to always look at the alternatives and choices you have. If you have already picked your major, go through your syllabus and find out what courses you need to take in order to complete the credit requirements. If you haven’t, you can take this opportunity to go through different majors’ requirement, and see what courses appeal to you. Also, make sure you choose classes that are designed for your level of studies. If you intend to take some higher level course, you should probably first talk to your academic adviser to ensure that you are able to handle to workload.
Ask your seniors for recommendations
The one who knows best is those who have actually been through the course. They know exactly how the professor teaches, and knows about the workload of the course. Ask them about whether it is a difficult course, about the course load, the teaching style, and the grading system. This would benefit you a lot as you would have more first-hand information about different courses.
Read reviews and comments online
If you don’t know a lot of seniors, searching course reviews online may help. There are a lot of sites that allow people to rate the courses and professors, and give some feedbacks on them. Through those sites, you can get a rough idea of how the courses go, and whether it suits you. Rate My Professors, for example, is a very popular site for that.
Visit your adviser
Some adviser provides great advice on what courses you should take after consulting your opinion and knowing interest. They may be able to point out what is suitable for you and what is not. Some may also help you to contact the lecturer of the course if you need. After all, the academic adviser is one of the great resources that the college provides for their students. Take advantage of it!
Remember to fulfil your core requirements
A lot of universities and colleges usually set a number of core courses and requirements that students need to fulfil. It is usually advised that students get the core requirements out of the way in the first two years so that they can focus on the major courses requirements later on.
Should I pick courses that are easy or those that I am interested in?
We all have this question. It is always a struggle to choose between picking courses that your friends tell you it is easy to get a grade in; or courses that you are genuinely interested or even passionate about. Here are some factors you need to think about before making this choice:
- How interested are you in this course?
- How authentic are the information regarding the level of difficulty of the courses?
- Are you confident that you can excel in courses that you like even if it is difficult?
- Do you know the professor of that course? Do you know what people speak about him?
Another good option is to register in both of the courses and drop one of them if you feel like you are not really into that class after the first few lessons. This would allow you to get a taste of the course and get to know the professor a bit before making the decision. Of course, you should also make the effort to talk to the professor or tutor of the course if you are thinking about whether you should continue studying it or drop it.
Choose some backup courses
This is to get yourself prepared if you are declined to join a class or if you have to waitlist a class you want to get into. I usually prepare around 2-3 backup classes just in case.
Arranging your course schedule
Another thing you need to think about is how to arrange your course schedule such that it best fits your learning style. Consider the following:
- Do you have to spare time for work or other commitments? Some students have to work for one or two part-time jobs, while others have clubs and other activities to join. Take those into considerations when scheduling your classes.
- Are the courses offered in this semester? Some of the classes may only be available on one of the semesters. Make sure to check the information.
- How many classes or components do that class have? While some science class may have lab sessions, others may have seminars or tutorials. Check the number of hours that the class will take up.
- How long does it take for you to go to college? If you are not staying in a dorm, and you need to spend a lot of time travelling to college, it may be best for you to minimize the number of days that you need to go to school.
- The level of difficulty of the class? It may not be the best option to put all the difficult class on one day. That would definitely stress you out.
- How well do you concentrate in class? For me, I don’t really like having more than 5 hours of classes a day because I find it very difficult for me to focus.
Some people prefer having all classes on the same day to give themselves more days off, while some prefer to spread out the classes. Here are some pros and cons of both sides.
Having all classes on a few days
- This way you can give yourself day off to do whatever you like
- Best for people who would like to work for a term-time internship or a part-time job
- Best for those who would prefer having a full day to yourself to study
Spreading out classes
- You give yourself more time to prepare for each class
- If you are the type of person that pushes everything till the last day, and you have all your classes squeeze to one day, you will find yourself very stressed before the day of classes.
Either way, here are some tips that you should bear in mind:
- make sure you leave some time in between classes to let your brain rest
- If you are not a morning person, and you are pretty sure that you can’t wake up at an early time, don’t pick 8am classes.
- Schedule your classes such that you won’t miss them
- REGISTER EARLY!
I hope the above gives you an idea on how you should choose your classes. Make sure to stay tuned to the blog by following the social media of Students Toolbox (which is in the footer below) as I will be posting some FREE PRINTABLES on planning your classes in the next few posts on Back to School series!