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How To Create A College Schedule For Success

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Creating a college schedule seems like it would be easy and straightforward. But, a “good schedule” can help set you up for a successful semester and a “bad schedule” can be a source of semester long stress.

Here are several important questions to consider as you set-up your semester.

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1. Will you need to work?

    If you will need to work, how many hours will you have to work each week? There are only so many hours in a day (or week) so you’ll need to balance how many hours you work with how many hours you need to dedicate to your courses.

    The general rule is that you should expect to spend 2-3 hours studying outside of class for every credit hour. So, if you are taking 12 credit hours of college classes, you should expect to spend 24-36 hours outside of class studying. That means that a basic 12 hour class schedule equates to between 36 - 48 hours of total work per week.

    Working more than 10-20 hours as a full-time student is an easy way to burn out or not have enough time to commit to your courses to be successful. If you must work more than 20 hours a week, consider scaling back and taking fewer classes each semester.

    2. Do you have a substantial non-work time commitment?

      Are you involved in sports or ROTC? Do you have family obligations? If so, carefully consider the time commitment involved in your obligation. You don’t want to over commit yourself whether it is from a job or other obligations. If you do, you’ll likely burn out or be unable to perform at your highest level.  

      3. Will your class schedule help you to move towards graduation?

        Now that you have determined how many college credit hours that you can take you should be sure that your schedule helps you to move towards graduation. Most students want to graduate in the shortest possible time frame. This is why it is important to create a multiple semester map for the courses in your major. This is where working with your advisor is important. Often classes must be taken in a particular order, so creating a map to graduation within your major courses is key. The last thing that you want is to go into your senior year to find out that you’re going to have to delay graduation because you have to take a missing prerequisite course.

        If you don’t yet have a major, choose 2-3 possible majors that you are interested in. Then, look at your general education requirements. Try to find general education requirements that are the first course for the majors you are interested in. This way you can “try” the major and start making progress if you do find that one of the majors fits your life goals.

        One trap I see college students fall into is trying to complete all of their general education courses before moving to their major courses. While this might seem like it would allow you to focus on your major, it often doesn’t work well due to prerequisite courses within your major. Students that complete the general education requirements can actually take more time to graduate since majors often take 3-4 years to move through the major courses. For students with financial aid minimum credit hour requirements, this can also mean that you will have to take extra courses to meet the financial aid requirements.

        So, be sure to create your skeleton schedule with your major courses and then add in your general education requirements.

        4.How far apart are your classes?

        There is nothing more frustrating than trying to cross an entire college campus in less than 10 minutes. If you must take classes on opposite ends of the campus, try to schedule your classes with at least one class period between them. That way you have time to calmly cross campus and maybe even sneak in some study time between classes.

        Some larger campuses have bike parking at each building to help students who need to travel longer distances. This can increase the distance you can safely travel between courses. Even with a bike, be sure to give yourself adequate time if at all possible to avoid semester long stress.

        Once you have created your schedule, consider using a bullet journal as your student planner during the semester.  Learn How Here. 

        If you are looking for more college tips, visit us at our home page here.

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