Where, When, and Which Class?: A Course Scheduling Guide
If you are like many first year students, you have a vague idea of what courses you want to take in college or university. If you liked biology in high school, chances are “Biology 1000” will catch your eye as you browse through the course calendar. Of course, the first thing that should guide your decisions is your interests. For example, if the thought of reading War and Peace is taxing to you, steer clear of Advanced English Lit. But besides what you do and don’t like, how do you decide what courses should fill your schedule?
The first thing to look at when creating your schedule is your program requirements. The faculty will dictate which courses you must take in first year to be eligible to continue in your program. For some programs, you may only have one mandatory course, or you may have five. To find out what you need to take for your program, look at the academic calendar for your school, usually available both in print and online. Or, go to the faculty page on your school’s website and select your program. Failing that, you can always call in to student services, where a representative will put you in contact with someone from your faculty.
Once you’re aware of your program requirements, you can decide what to do with your electives. These classes can be anything, and should be guided by your interests and your skills. If the number of choices seems overwhelming, or you’re just plain good at everything, try choosing electives based on their time slots. After scheduling your mandatory classes, you’ll have some space left over. You can then see what electives would fit into the time slots you have, which will help narrow down your selection.
When it comes to scheduling, lock down your mandatory classes first. Since all the students in your program have to take them, there will likely be some variety in times and professors. Then, put electives where you see fit. If they conflict, take a mandatory class over an elective; you can take an elective any time during your schooling career, but mandatory courses are often prerequisites for upper year classes. If a course you need, or just really want, to take is eluding you, remember that you can take some classes in the summer (sometimes at a different university) or online.
You won’t always have a say in the timing of your courses, but when you can make decisions, be honest with yourself. If you can’t wake up before noon in the summer, you will have trouble with an 8:30 AM class. With all the freedom that post-secondary classes offer, you’ll be more likely to sleep in and miss class.
When faced with the daunting task of scheduling your own classes, its easy to lose sight of what an awesome opportunity it is. For the first time, you have complete control over your schedule. When, where, and what courses you take are entirely up to you! Keep that in mind while you choose your classes, and you’ll be sure to come out with a great semester.