Choosing a college courseload can be a daunting task, especially for freshmen. Finding the right amount of hours and the right way to balance them can be tricky, much like planning how to juggle billiards balls. Get it right and you can accomplish something great. Get it wrong and you may very well get a very big bump in the head. Finding the right schedule involves planning how you will complete your degree plan in the most reasonable time possible, distributing difficult courses throughout the week, and considering how your schedule will have to fit around your life.
The first step is looking at your degree plan. Most majors involve having to take courses in a fairly specific order along with knocking out some basic courses along the way. Make a list of each semester with space to place your courses. Your prerequisites will need to be placed in the earlier semesters, meaning that survey courses or introductory science classes should come first. Do not think that you have to get these done right away, you only need to pass the courses at some point before you take the next course that requires them. Take a few of these “weedout courses” a semester while filling the rest of the schedule with other courses that your school requires that you know you can excel in. This means balancing out that semester that you take Chem 101 and Math 151 with a course in rock music history and bowling (insert other course that excites you here).
Next you need to figure out how to plan your week. Most students would suggest balancing difficult courses throughout the week so you do not burn out on certain days or have too many challenging tests or assignments on one day. Your school should have an online course registration system by now, and most schools allow students to view the class times and days a few days before actually registering. Take this to your advantage and start planning your week with backup options in case some classes you want fill up.
Of course you must also plan your schedule around your life. If you are not a morning person then scheduling 8 AM courses five days a week would obviously lead to the temptation of sleeping in. If you have a job in the evenings then morning classes might be crucial to give you a break to get ready and be at work on time. If you plan on going home on the weekends then you may look into the possibility of scheduling your classes so you have Fridays off, or at least being done by noon so you do not risk driving tired. You know what you will have to plan around, so schedule wisely.
Taking these basic rules into account will give you a great schedule nine times out of ten. Good luck getting the schedule you want and making grades. Study hard, but don’t forget to have a little fun here and there while you’re at it.