In college, our lives revolve around our class schedule. After all, it can affect when you sleep, when you eat, both when you work and for how long, and how much studying time you have. In fact, your schedule can be the catalyst for new habits and routines in college, which can last up to graduation and beyond. In order to have the best habits, routines, and (of course) time management possible, you need to have the best schedule. My own mistakes and successes in creating class schedules given me a first-hand experience on what works and what doesn’t; this list puts together everything I’ve learned on how to create the perfect class schedule for college:
1) Schedule Classes ASAP
When it comes to scheduling your college classes, try to schedule them ASAP. Classes fill up quickly and if you’re not one of the first people to register, it’s possible that you won’t be able to get into all the classes you need or want.
For example, my college hosted several freshmen orientations throughout the summer in which freshmen would visit campus and sign up for classes. I signed up for one of the last orientations and (as a result) was one of the last students to create a class schedule. It took me forever to do because so many of the classes I needed were already filled up; some of the students sitting next to me couldn’t even get into classes in their major!
Since I had the last picks of classes, my schedule also wasn’t cohesive. My classes were scheduled at awkward times throughout the day, which made the day much longer then it needed to be; even worse, the amount of time between classes was too small to get any actual work done so I was left with a pile of homework at the end of the day.
In my second semester, however, I was one of the first students to schedule classes and ended up with the perfect schedule!
These different schedules impacted my semester and routines so much and it’s amazing the differences I felt between the two semesters. That’s why it’s important to schedule classes as early as possible so that you can get the classes you need at the times you prefer.
2) Avoid Early Morning/Late Night Classes
These are sometimes impossible to avoid, but if you have the chance, then try to avoid early morning/late night classes in your schedule. Many students find these hard to handle, as they’re usually tired from late-night study and work sessions the night before or already have a full load of classes throughout the day. Even more, most night classes only meet 1 time a week, for an entire 3-hour session! (Although I do have some tips on how to survive long college classes if you do happen to be stuck in long classes, as well as 5 tips to survive early morning commuter life.)
If you know you won’t be able to handle classes that meet early or late in the day, don’t pressure yourself into taking them to “save” time; you will thank yourself later.
3) Leave Time in Your Schedule for Meals
If at all possible, leave time for meals in your schedule. College classes are hard and stressful; skipping lunch (or any other meal, for that matter) can make them even more so.
When setting up your class schedule, also try to align your mealtimes with your friends’. It’s a great opportunity to de-stress and socialize and can significantly lift your mood before your return to your classes.
4) Finish Your Classes Early in the Day
While having gaps between classes can be a relief, that time gradually adds up throughout the day. Would you rather have 45 minutes between each class (when you probably won’t spend that time doing anything besides playing on your phone) or would you rather have your classes back-to-back, with an extra 2-3 hours at the end of the day?
The choice is obvious to me! I’d rather get my classes over with all at once so that I could do more later on, like dinner with friends or catching up on my favorite TV show.
5) Balance the Levels of Difficulty
If you’re a high school student reading this, then know that it doesn’t matter how well you balanced those 7 or 8 classes in high school, it’s different in college. The workloads are much more intense and some classes are going to demand much more time than others. Don’t rush into college with a bunch of high-difficulty classes, “just to get them over with.”
Instead, create a schedule with both hard and easy classes, which will not only give you time outside of class to do things besides homework and studying but will also help you not feel as overwhelmed. College is all about learning to balance everything, which includes your class schedule.
6) Create a Mock Schedule Beforehand
When you schedule your classes you should already have a good idea of what classes you want to take. Your academic advisor should help you with this in an advising session, but you should also double-check by looking at the general education requirements you haven’t completed yet and (more importantly) the classes for your major.
You also need to be aware whether any of the classes in your major aren’t offered in certain semesters because that can also affect your schedule.
All schools display their schedule of classes before registration; take advantage of this by looking at what classes are available, when, and create a “mock” schedule before registration. Going into a scheduling session already knowing what classes you want makes scheduling your classes 100x times easier.
7) Use Rate My Professors
When scheduling classes, use Rate My Professors to learn more about the professor teaching the class and what to expect from the semester.
However, I do advise you to use it with caution as some students’ reviews might be misleading and may only pertain to that student. Instead, look at what the majority of students say about that professor and their teaching style, then pick the professor (and therefore the class) that will be taught in a way that you will learn the best. This will help you avoid any stress from a class that is taught in a way you find hard to understand and learning in your preferred style will give you a better education.
Final Thoughts on How to Create the Perfect Class Schedule
I’ve seen and lived through great and terrible college schedules so I can vouch how important these tips are for making the perfect schedule possible for your college classes. Hopefully, you will find them useful as I do!