June 5th, 2008 Jamie
Setting up my class schedule always stressed me out-would I get the classes I wanted, at the times I wanted? Would I have time to get my homework done, and have a job? Here are my top 5 tips to make your class schedule the best it can be. (This might be a little early since it’s just the opening of summer, but for since some schools make you set up your classes over the summer anyway, I thought I should get these tips out ASAP!)
- Sign Up for an Extra Class. Every quarter, I signed up for one extra class (I usually took 4 classes, so I signed up for 5). The first week, I went to all 5 classes, picked the one I liked the least (because it seemed too hard, the professor was weird, the topic was boring, or whatever) and dropped it. That way I had an easy out of one class: I didn’t get stuck with something I didn’t like and still had the credits I needed. [Note: Commenter Elizabeth shared that her registrar's office penalizes if they feel you are abusing the registration process, so be sure to check your school's add/drop policy!]
- Back-to-Back or Hours Apart? Decide ahead whether you can handle back-to-back classes or if you’ll need more than a 10-minute passing period between. Some students feel pressured rushing from building to building in the passing period because they don’t know the campus, or find it hard to keep focused with one class after another. Others like to get all their classes over with in one fell swoop and use the rest of the day for work, study, and socializing instead. If you do schedule you classes with extra in-between time, use it to review your notes from the class you just took. According to Strategies for Success, “extensive studies have shown that one’s recall rises immediately after a learning period, such as a lecture, and then declines rapidly until after about twenty-four hours, recall has diminished by about 80%. However, the decline in recall can be dramatically reduced if one reinforces the learning by a short review within one hour.” Translation: Shorter studying time later! You can also use the extra time to do homework, grab a snack, or get to know the campus better.
- Take Some Fun/Easy Classes. All through your pre-college school days your schedule revolved around the requirements-college is your turn to call the shots. Take at least a couple fun or easy classes in subjects you’ve always wanted to take (as long as you can keep up with your major). One of my favorite classes was a Pass/No Pass class in Gospel Choir-it was easy, relaxed, fun, and had a very enthusiastic professor. I looked forward to it every week.
- Don’t Schedule Classes You’ll Sleep Through. No matter how devoted you are to BioChem, you’re not going to get much out of it if you fall asleep in class-or worse, if you don’t even get out of bed. Be realistic when you’re scheduling your classes. If you’re going to skip anything before 9, set your classes up for 9:30 or later!
- Block Out the Rest of Your Day. When you’re setting up your class schedule, plan out how the rest of your life will work in around your classes. Give yourself time to go out with friends, have a part-time job, do homework and study, and set aside time for these things on your calendar-in writing. You can always move your activities around later, but figuring them out early will help you wrap your mind around everything that has to get done in a single day.
These 5 things helped me make a pretty good (sometimes great!) schedule every quarter. If you do nothing else, I definitely recommend that you take action on Tip #1 - sign up for an extra class. It gives you so much freedom to know you can drop one of your classes without falling below your credit requirements!
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