Community College Tips for Crafting the Perfect Class Schedule

Community College Tips for Crafting the Perfect Class Schedule
College is a time to explore new things and to think about where your future is going to take you. To make the most of it, be realistic about choosing your classes but don't forget to leave room for a new challenge!

Starting college is an exciting time. The world is full of new possibilities and you can’t begin to imagine what the future holds. When you are just starting community college, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement but you do need to maintain a certain degree of practicality. For instance, you shouldn’t just load up your class schedule with fun electives and “blow-off” classes if you want to graduate on time. Keep reading to learn some helpful tips for crafting the perfect class schedule that is the ideal mix of fun and functional.

Things to Think About Before Choosing Classes

Depending on which community college you choose, you may be faced with a large number of class options – perhaps an entire book full. While it may be tempting to just skim through the class list and just pick the things that interest you, you do need to be realistic about your choices. Just as important as the types of classes you choose are the number of classes. Only you can know how much you are able to handle when it comes to your class load, so don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with a bit of hard work, but be realistic about how much time you have for studying and homework without completely sacrificing all of your free time. Different students learn and work at different rates, so be aware of your own abilities and limitations and take those things into account when scheduling classes.

Hailey Dollar offers some advice on picking classes in the following video.

You also need to be aware of your learning style and studying habits. Are you a morning person? If so, it might benefit you to choose earlier classes so you can work on your homework in the afternoon and have your evenings free. If you are a person who needs a lot of sleep, you can schedule your classes a bit later but keep in mind that your studies may go later into the night if your first class isn’t until noon. You should also maintain a balanced in the types of classes you take because that will determine the type of homework you have. You probably don’t want to take three literature classes at once or you will spend all of your free time reading and writing papers. At the same time, don’t schedule multiple classes that have lab requirements.

Another important thing to remember when scheduling classes is that you need to find a balance between required courses and elective courses. College is a time to learn about yourself and to learn the skills you will need for a successful future. It is also a time to discover new things that interest you – that is where elective classes come in. If you aren’t sure yet what you want your major to be, load your class schedule with an even balance of general course requirements (like math, science, and writing) then throw in a few electives that sound interesting to you. You never know when an elective might turn into your favorite class or inspire you to change your major!

Dos and Don’ts for Class Scheduling

There is really no “right” or “wrong” way to go about crafting your class schedule – your class schedule will be individual to you and to your interests. But there are some “dos” and “don’ts” for scheduling classes that you should consider. Here are a few of the most important things to remember:

  • DO look over the course catalog to familiarize yourself with course options before you start scheduling classes (especially before your first semester). You want to learn what your options are before you make any decisions.
  • DO schedule a mix of different types of classes, both required courses and electives so that you don’t spend all of your free time doing one type of work (like reading, writing papers, or doing math problems).
  • DO talk to your student advisor before finalizing your class schedule – you need to make sure that the classes you want are available, that they fit into your schedule, and that they fulfill your graduation requirements.
  • DO pick a few back-up options in case some of the classes you want to take are already filled by the time you are allowed to register (this is more likely to happen with lower level classes during your freshman and sophomore year).
  • DO sign up for a college writing class, even if it isn’t required – honing your research and writing skills during your first semester will put you ahead of the game for the rest of your college career.
  • DON’T overbook yourself, especially during your first year – you will need some time to get used to being at college, to make new friends, and to participate in campus activities.
  • DON’T sign up for classes all at one difficulty level – it isn’t a good idea to only take “blow off” classes but there is nothing wrong with balancing out your difficult course requirements with a fun elective.
  • DON’T put off your core requirements – keep in mind that some of the higher-level classes you will need to complete your major may have lower level pre-requisites, so get them done early so scheduling your classes later will be less of a nightmare.
  • DON’T pack your schedule too full – remember that you’ll need time to get from one class to the next as well as time for homework and extracurricular activities.

The M Blog offers advice on picking classes in community college.

Remember, there is no wrong way or right way to create your personal class schedule, but the things listed above should help to avoid common pitfalls that many students encounter while scheduling their classes.

How Many Classes Should You be Taking?

Just as important as the type of courses you take in community college is the number of courses you take. Once you have chosen a major, you will know exactly what core requirements and electives you have to take. All you need to do then is decide when you want to graduate and how many classes you have to take each semester to make that happen. If you haven’t chosen a major yet, or if you aren’t worried about graduating at a particular time, you may have a little bit more freedom with your course load. Keep in mind that most colleges have a minimum credits requirement to be considered a full-time student – this will affect your residency eligibility as well as financial aid. For many schools, you need to take at least 12 credits to pass as a full-time student. You’ll also need to keep in mind that some classes are worth more credits than others and remember that you’ll have to do some studying and homework outside of class as well. Your best bet is to spread your course load out as evenly as possible so you have a similar workload each semester.

College is a life-changing experience and one that you will never forget. In college, you will have some amazing opportunities that you will never have again, so take advantage of them while you can! This means being smart about creating your class schedule to ensure that you get the classes you need to graduate with your major of choice while also experiencing some new things.

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