There are few things more heartbreaking during your college experience than getting a class schedule that you don’t like. To avoid this, there are several steps you can take to be prepared for the class registration process and secure the best college schedule that fits your needs and preferences.

College Scheduling Tools

When it comes time to start planning your next semester’s schedule, it is beneficial to spend some time building a mock schedule. There are several resources available to you online that allow you to build your ideal schedule. By making a schedule before you register for classes, you can get a better idea of how to balance your classes with the other things you might have going on that semester.

The Free College Schedule Maker is a great resource that allows you to create a weekly class schedule for free in just a few minutes. When you’re done, you can print your schedule or save it onto your computer for later. You can even export your schedule, so that if you drop or add courses later, you can simply modify your old schedule to accommodate the changes.

Course Catalogs

Before you even think about scheduling and enrolling in classes, it is crucial that you explore the course catalog for your college. The course catalog will show you all of the classes that are currently being offered and help you narrow down which courses you might want to take. It is important to keep in mind the requirements for your major and minor while exploring your options.

There are a few questions you should ask yourself and things to consider while perusing your institution’s course catalog:

Do you know your major?

  • If you answered “Yes” – choose courses that fulfill requirements for your major.
    • If you already know your major when it comes time to schedule classes, it is recommended that you choose courses that will help you meet your major requirements. If there are certain classes that you need to take in a timely manner in order to complete your degree, make sure those are your priority when building your schedule.
  • If you answered “No” – consider choosing introductory level classes in subjects you’re interested in or classes that fulfill general education requirements.
    • If you are still unsure of what you want to major in, that’s okay! One of the best parts about college is the wide range of classes and areas of study that are offered. When building your schedule, start by picking courses that you are interested in. If it’s possible, try to finish all core requirements (like general education and language courses) as soon as possible. This will help later on in college when your schedule fills up with major and minor requirements.

Are you unsure of what classes you should take and/or have questions? 

  • If you are unsure of where to even begin when building your schedule for the next semester, your academic advisor is one of the best resources to lean on. Your advisor is there for you and wants to help you succeed. Some schools might require you to meet with your advisor prior to registration to make sure you’re on the right track. If not, it’s always a good idea to request a planning meeting anyway. Be sure to come prepared with specific questions so that you can get the most out of the time with your academic advisor.

Morning Classes

Morning classes might not be the favorite of every college student, but they are a great option that should be considered when building your schedule.

One of the major benefits of morning classes is that they’re typically easier to get enrolled into. It’s no secret that classes can fill up fast. To avoid not getting a seat in a class that you might need, consider taking the morning section if it is offered. It might not be ideal to wake up early, but you will at least be getting a seat in a class that you need to take.

If you’re hesitant about taking morning classes, here are a few tips that might help:

Tips for morning classes:

  • Do your class work the day before
  • Consistently wake up early to form your routines/habits
  • Make/eat breakfast to ensure peak performance and cognitive function
  • Limit your all-nighters (you need your rest!)

Course Load

Workload and course load is very important to consider when building your schedule. It might be tempting to cram as many requirements as possible into one semester, but it’s probably not the wisest idea. It’s best to choose a course load that fits with your life and existing obligations so that you can be successful in the long term.

Do you plan on being a full time student (12+ credit hours)?

  • If you answered “Yes” – most full time students take about 4 to 6 courses a semester, or an average of 15 credit hours, but anything over 12 credit hours makes you a full time student. Remember that most classes require you to spend two to three hours outside of class studying/doing coursework for every one credit hour in which you’re enrolled.
  • If you answered “No” – if you are attending school part time, especially due to other obligations outside of school, do not overload yourself. Choose to take 2 to 4 classes each semester based on the amount of credit hours you can fit into your existing schedule.

More Tips

  • Don’t jump into hard courses first. Start slow and create balance in your schedule.
  • Choose courses that require different types of coursework. For example, if you don’t enjoy writing, try to avoid having lots of written assignments due at once. It is important to find the right mix of courses for you.

Courses Fill Up Quickly

Register early

  • It might be hard to wake up early on the day of class registration just to pick a schedule, but you will thank yourself later. Registering as soon as your time window opens up is one of the best things you can do for yourself. While it will not guarantee that you’ll get a spot in a class, you will probably have a better chance of getting the classes you want.

Have back-up classes in mind

  • In the case that you do not get a place in a class that was on your schedule, it is always good to have a few back-up classes in mind. It is not a bad idea to add a few backup classes to your schedule. If you happen to get all of your desired courses, you can drop the extra classes that you don’t want or need.

Introductory and General Education courses fill up faster than 200-300 level classes

  • Introductory and General Education courses are some of the larger classes you will take in your college career. However, just because it’s a big class does not mean it will be easy to get into. If you have to take any intro or Gen. Ed courses it’s better to register for them as soon as possible in order to guarantee a seat.

Every college student wants to create the best college schedule that will work perfectly for them. If you don’t get the exact college schedule that you are hoping for, that’s completely fine! It’s not the end of the world if your schedule for the semester isn’t exactly what you are hoping for. This can be used as a learning experience when it comes time to creating a new schedule next semester. Creating a college schedule is only going to get easier as you progress through school.

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