Creating Your Course Schedule

Deciding on a course schedule is a decision that will haunt the beginning of every semester, from the your first year through graduation. A course schedule should be carefully created, taking into account many variables. Taking too many classes or too difficult classes could make it hard to pass with good grades, while taking too few classes or the wrong classes could mean that it will take longer before you can graduate. By creating a course schedule custom designed for your goals, your strengths and weaknesses, and your needs, you can help ensure college success!

Creating the best course schedule can help ensure college success! (Photo by Univers beeldbank)

To determine your course schedule, first look at the courses required for your major.  At most colleges and universities, there is a general set of core classes that all students, regardless of major, have to take. These core classes, sometimes called general education classes, consist of subjects like English, history, general sciences, math, and foreign language.  There are also specific classes required for each major. These classes will vary depending on your major and the degree you are seeking. When determining your course schedule, make sure you are taking classes that are required either as general education or for your major.

Another good idea when determining your course schedule is to talk to your academic advisor. Whether you are enrolled in a distance learning program or a traditional school, your academic advisor is a great asset. Academic advisors are qualified to help you determine your course schedule. They can often tell you which classes are best taken early in your degree and which are better saved for later. They can also inform you if specific classes you will need to take are not offered every semester, so you can plan. Sometimes, academic advisors will be helpful in advising which professors are best to take and helping you decide on elective courses, also.

Before picking your courses, check each class to make sure you have the necessary prerequisites and corequisits for each class.  Prerequisites are courses that must be taken before you can take a certain course, while corequisits are courses that must be taken at the same time as another course. Make sure you have all the prerequisits before signing up for a course; make sure you sign up for any corequisits at the same time as the course.

Think about your skills and abilities before deciding on your course schedule. If math has always been difficult for you, it is likely a bad idea to sign up for multiple math courses in the same semester, as tempting as it might be to get them all out of the way at once. Similarly, if you are taking a few very difficult courses, it is best to take easier courses to fill the rest of your schedule. By balancing easy and difficult courses, you can ensure yourself enough time to study and get good grades in all the classes.

Some students find it helpful to check out the professors before signing up for a course. Especially helpful at bigger universities and distance learning programs where different professors teach the same course, checking out the professor before signing up can help make sure that you pick a professor you will get along best with. Asking students who have taken the class you are looking at previously or even using websites like Rate My Professor can help you pick the best professor for you!

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