planning your first-term college schedule
Posted : June 5, 2006
Last Updated : May 13, 2014
Going to college can be an exciting, yet confusing time for many entering freshmen. From finding your way around campus to being away from home for the first time, it's no wonder that you may feel overwhelmed. One of the most crucial tasks that you will be faced with is the creation of your first-term college schedule. Consider the following to help you map out a schedule that is most conducive to your specific needs.
General College Requirements
Since general college requirements precede and support more specialized classes, you really need to take some general requirements during your first semester. General requirements usually include: foreign language, math, English, science, history, etc. If you have taken AP courses or performed well on placement tests, then you may be able to opt out of some core requirements, depending on your particular school.
When planning your first-term college schedule, it is a good idea to balance the types of courses you are taking. Don't only take classes that require a lot of reading and writing; try to balance those classes with courses in math, foreign language, or art. Likewise, don't take two lab science courses and two math classes. You would be too overwhelmed. By having a mixture of courses that include reading, writing, problem solving, etc., you will have a balanced schedule that will give you a variety of assignments so you won't be weighed down with the same tasks.
To earn a degree in four years (12 terms), students should average 15 credits a term. To be considered a full-time student, you must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours. If you only take the minimum of 12 credit hours each semester, then you would have to take summer classes each year in order to be able to graduate in four years. With that said, try to balance your first-term schedule so you are not too overwhelmed. If you are working part-time and going to school at the same time, consider taking 12 credit hours during your first semester. After you get used to college courses, then you can take more credit hours. If you do not plan on working during your first-term, then you should be able to handle 15 or 16 credit hours.
Time of Day
In college, you have a very flexible schedule. Since you will not be in classes for seven hours every day like you were in high school, you can pick the times and even the days of the week that you want to attend class. If you have a job where you need to work evenings, you can schedule your classes for the mornings and vice versa. If you are just not a morning person, then you can schedule your classes for the afternoons (just keep in mind that there may be more distractions for you to skip afternoon or evening classes). Furthermore, if you only want to go to classes a few days a week, you can plan your schedule so that you only have classes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday or Tuesday/Thursday.
When planning your first-term college schedule, you need to be aware of the geographical locations of the classrooms. You need to allow enough time to get from one location to another without being late to class. If you have a class that ends at 9:50am, you wouldn't have time to walk to a 10am class that is almost a mile away. Many larger campuses offer shuttles, so be sure to get your campus bus schedule before you plan your own. You should also get a campus map to help you figure out where your classes are located.
Planning a college schedule can be daunting if you have never done it before. If you go to your school's Freshmen Orientation, you will be assigned an advisor who can help you plan out your first-term schedule. Go to your advisor meeting prepared with a list of courses that you would like to take, as well as alternatives since you may not get into your first picks.