How to Plan a Good Schedule
By Marisa Peters, Junior, Ohio University
Choosing classes as a freshman in college can be a daunting experience. Most likely, the course selection has grown quite a bit from high school to college. Trying to figure out a schedule that won't kill you, or require sprints across campus, can be difficult.
If you have chosen a major, chances are there are general education requirements you must meet in order to graduate; such as English, history, and math. It's a good idea to take some of these classes now. Chances are, your major-specific classes will be full of upperclassmen, so don't stress about not being able to get into those courses. You'll enjoy taking those classes later in your college career anyway.
If you haven't chosen a major, the best thing to do is take classes that interest you and are related to fields you can see yourself possibly entering. If you like the first class you take in a particular area, take a couple more.
Another key to scheduling is balance. It is a horrible idea to try to get all of the classes you dislike out of the way at once. It will just be a miserable term, and the only thing worse than the experience may be the grades you end up with. Balance is important, and everyone should take time to think about what coursework loads will be like before deciding on a schedule. Don't take four classes that will require a lot of daily reading, or you'll always feel behind in everything. Don't take four classes that require daily bookwork (such as a foreign language or math), or you'll feel like you're always sitting at your desk and staring at textbooks. It's good to take one or two classes that require daily reading, another that requires daily bookwork, and then another that you will enjoy and that won't be too stressful.
Another important thing to think about when scheduling classes is whether or not you will be able to make it from one building to another in the allotted time. Classes located on opposite sides of campus can be difficult to get to in ten minutesespecially in unfriendly weather. Also, choose your schedule according to how you study. Space classes out throughout the day if you know you'll study in between them, and make good use of your time. If you feel you might waste that time, it is better to schedule them one after another and then have the rest of the day to work on assignments. Make sure you leave yourself time to eat, though. Not many people can concentrate or listen very well if your stomach is growling.
The most important thing is to be realistic. If you take on too much, you will only make things harder and your grades will be worse. But if you make it too easy, then all your hard classes will pile up in the end. Try to aim for a tentative, balanced outline of your college career, and stick to it as much as possible.