Starting college is an exciting time. The world is full of new possibilities, and you can’t begin imagining the future. When starting community college, getting caught up in the excitement is easy, but you 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. Here are some tips for crafting the perfect class schedule that is the ideal mix of fun and functional.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Classes
Depending on your community college, you may facemany class options, perhaps a full book. It's not the same as choosing classes in high school. While it may be tempting to skim through the class list and pick the ones that interest you, be realistic about your choices. The number of classes you choose is just as important as the types of classes you choose. Only you can know how much you can 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 abilities and limitations and consider those things 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 study habits. Are you a morning person? If so, you should choose earlier classes to 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. Maintain a balance 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 consideration when scheduling classes is balancing 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 interesting electives. An elective might become your favorite class or inspire you to change your major.
Dos and Don’ts for Class Scheduling
There is no right or wrong way to craft your class schedule. Your class schedule will be unique and cater to your interests. But there are some “dos” and “don’ts” for scheduling classes that you should consider.
- Review the course catalog to familiarize yourself with course options before you start scheduling classes, especially before your first semester. Learn what your options are before making any decisions.
- Schedule a mix of different types of classes, including both required courses and electives. This will afford you a variety of course loads so that you don’t spend all of your free time doing one type of work, such as reading, writing papers, or doing math problems.
- Speak with your student advisor before finalizing your class schedule. Ensure the classes you want are available, fit your schedule, and fulfill your graduation requirements.
- Choose some backup options if some of the classes you want to take are already filled by the time you register. This often happens with lower-level classes during your freshman and sophomore years.
- Take a college writing class, even if it isn’t required, to hone your research and writing skills. This will put you ahead of the game for the rest of your college career.
- Don’t overbook yourself, especially during your first year. Get used to being at college. Make new friends. Participate in campus activities.
- Don't sign up for classes on the same difficulty level. Balance your difficult course requirements with less demanding electives.
- Don't put off your core requirements. Some of the higher-level classes necessary for completing your major may have lower-level prerequisites. Complete them as soon as possible so that scheduling your classes later will be less of a nightmare.
- Don't schedule classes too close together. You’ll need time to get from one class to the next and have time for homework and extracurricular activities.
In this video, The M Blog offers advice on picking classes in community college.
Remember, there is no wrong way or right way to create your class schedule; however, the items listed above should help avoid common pitfalls that many students encounter while scheduling their classes.
How Many Classes Should You Take?
The number of courses you take in community college is just as important as the type of courses you take. Once you have chosen a major, you will know exactly what core requirements and electives you must take. All you need to do then is decide when you want to graduate and how many classes you must take each semester to make that happen. If you haven’t chosen a major yet or aren’t worried about graduating at a particular time, you may have a little more freedom with your course load. Remember that most colleges have a minimum credit requirement to be considered a full-time student. This will affect your residency eligibility as well as financial aid. You must take at least 12 credits at many schools to pass as a full-time student. You’ll also need to remember that some classes are worth more credits than others and 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.
Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @communitycollegereview