How to Build the Perfect College Schedule

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The perfect schedule is the key to a successful semester. You need to find a good balance of challenging and not as challenging classes. You also need to take classes that you have a genuine interest in, or the desire to learn the material just won’t be there. Before it comes time to schedule, be sure to make an appointment with your advisor because as perfect as you think your schedule may be, there’s always room for improvement.

Mix It Up

As freshmen coming in, you have plenty of obligations to fulfill from starting to knock out gen-eds to figuring out your major, so building a good schedule that isn’t overwhelming can be stressful. To find the right balance, you need to include a variety of gen eds; they can help you discover what subjects you’re good at and what subjects you’re not so strong in. Your strengths and weaknesses will help you determine what major suits you. Also, when you mix up your gen-eds you don’t get stuck with an abundance of gen-eds you’re not so good at.

Starting out your college career with too many difficult classes and a low GPA is never good because then you’re stuck working extra hard afterwards trying to repair the damage. It’s also important to not overwhelm yourself. Signing up for 18 credits as an incoming freshman isn’t usually the way to do it. You have (potentially) four years to knock out your credits; don’t rush it. It’s better to start out slow, dip your feet in the water, and then adjust; when you get used to college life, begin to amp up your schedule.

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Be Your Own Person

Don’t take a class strictly because your friend is doing it.  When you come to college, you’re supposed to be discovering what classes interest you and what major is right for you, not your friend. You have time for friends AFTER class. It’s not worth taking a class with your friend to cheat or split up homework if it’s not going to actually help you in the long run.

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Be Realistic

The time you choose to schedule classes is very important. If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule 8 a.m. classes. Be realistic. There is no point to scheduling a class if you’re just going to feel compelled to skip it. College is expensive; you’re paying for your education so it’s important to make the most of each class you take.

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Plan Ahead

When it comes to your major-specific classes, try to start them earlier than later. The earlier you figure out your major and start those classes, the earlier you get your foot in the door. Plus, if you start major classes early and decide that major isn’t for you, it isn’t as big of a deal if you realize you need to switch. If you start knocking out major-specific classes early on, you won’t be under so much pressure later on to finish them. Major-specific classes are the ones most important to you. You need to actually pass and pay attention in major specific classes because that’s going to help you for the rest of your career. You’ll benefit more if you schedule 1-2 major-specific classes each semester because then you can focus your energy on those two classes and get the most out of them – don’t overload.

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Make A Statement

Your relationships with your professors are very important. Make yourself known in the class either by raising your hand in lecture or by going to office hours. When scheduling your class, be sure to talk to upperclassmen that have taken the same class about their experience with the professor or check out ratemyprofessor.com for honest feedback about your campus’ professors. If you’re not going to be compatible with a professor, look for a section of the class with a different instructor or take a different class. Your relationship with your professor can be a huge influence in your learning experience and ultimately your final grade. It’s important to make sure your professor won’t be too difficult or teach in a learning style that isn’t compatible with your own.

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Don’t Procrastinate

Don’t wait until the last minute to create your schedule. Plan ahead. In order to find the right professors and the right class time, you should schedule an appointment with your advisor to discuss classes long before it actually comes time to schedule.  If you’re proactive about building the right schedule, it’ll pay off, however, if you procrastinate you may end up stuck with incompatible class times and professors that aren’t for you. Don’t overwhelm yourself and use your gen-eds to your advantage. Building the right schedule is an art, but if you can master the art you’ll be more than set for a successful semester.

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Have you ever had a terrible professor? Or been stuck with an 8 a.m. you just couldn’t make it to? Have you ever had any scheduling horrors or successes in the past? Let us know.

Meg Riley

Writer. Far too sarcastic for my own good. Dad Music Enthusiast. Junior at Penn State studying Journalism.

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