Dear Freshmen: Make a schedule for success

By Tyler Mercer–

The dream class schedule would be a schedule where I had no classes and instead had quality time with my bed and a few good Netflix movies. Unfortunately, there aren’t many universities who will agree with me, so I have to actually build a schedule that I can handle. The same applies to each of you, whether that means developing a class schedule around your work schedule or around lunch and nap breaks.

If, in fact, you are a student who must also hold down a part- or full-time job along with school, there are a few things you should consider before planning a schedule for next semester. First look at what kind of job you have: Is it on-campus? Does it allow for flexible scheduling?

On-campus jobs generally work well with students to ensure that the student worker can earn money while simultaneously keeping up with his or her studies. Jobs that can be found at the mall, restaurants and other retail or office positions may not be willing to let you off work because you have an exam at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
Not all students qualify for work study programs, so many of you may actually be working in retail positions or in restaurants. It may help if you request to have the same general schedule every week for work. If you maintain the same schedule it will be easy to know when it is best to schedule classes so that you leave time for work, adequate studying time and time to enjoy yourself (you are still in college, don’t forget!).

For jobs that go late into the night, it might not be advisable to schedule early morning classes. It will be easier to stick to afternoon classes, so that you can get enough sleep to make it through the hours of class and work you’ll have to put in.

An alternative to afternoon classes every day of the week is to schedule classes for only a few days a week. Some find it easy to schedule classes only on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that they can work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or vice versa. Even if you don’t have a part-time job, this is a good idea for those of us who would rather get class out of the way and enjoy some down time.

Aside from developing a schedule that allows time for your part-time job, there are a few other things to make sure you don’t regret the schedule you make next semester. Take a look at what classes you attended the least often last semester. Did you fail to attend because you disliked the professor or because of the class time?
That 8 a.m. chemistry class you had last semester only saw you every couple classes, right? I bet that every morning when your alarm went off, if you even bothered to do that much, you got up and thought, “Wow, I’m way too tired.” I’m sure you proceeded to crawl right back into your warm bed and chemistry went on without you.

What about that 5:30 p.m., every Monday and Wednesday anthropology class? It was so close to dinner time, and no one wants to miss out on dinner with their friends, so you would just skip it. Every week, when you decided to skip, you wondered, “Why did I even schedule a class this late?!”

Personally, I will never schedule a class that only meets once a week ever again. After the amount of time for a normal class to be over has passed, my brain almost completely checks out. I simply can’t focus for that long without a change of pace. Unfortunately, most professors don’t switch up their teaching styles every 50 minutes.

These are the things to think about when you’re making your schedule for next fall. It is important to make a schedule that fits your habits and capabilities. We all want to succeed in college, but sometimes it comes down to simply helping ourselves do it.

If you take these things into consideration before you start picking out classes, it will be much easier for you to make it to class, keep up with everything you need to (that includes sleep) and to make the grades you need to graduate.

You may end up with an amazing schedule that allows you plenty of time to stay on top of work, studying and whatever else you need to get done, but don’t forget that being in college forever is not what you or your wallet wants to do.

When possible, try to take around 15 hours a semester. If you simply can’t handle that course load one semester, it’s okay to only take 12 or 13 hours. You do have the option to take summer courses that will help you collect the hours you need to graduate.

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