Monday, April 6, 2015

How to: Schedule College Classes in 5 Easy Steps

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Last week I met some adorable high school seniors in my local bookstore. We started talking about George Orwell and my love for 1984, and then an hour later we were discussing my college tips for them and I mentioned Sarah Smile. Of course, I got home with 101 ideas for blog posts because there is so much about college - especially freshman year - that no one tells you but you're too afraid to ask because you want to seem like you know it already. So, over the next few weeks, I'm going to be turning those questions and tips into blog posts, about anything from scheduling, to picking a major, to picking a back pack and school supplies.  If you're already in college or you've graduated but feel like you've got some tips to share too, add them in the comments below, because those are always helpful! Without further adieu, here's how to schedule classes minus all the stress and panic.
 
1 // Print out your Degree Path
 When I was a freshman, I had no idea what this was, but my mom helped me find it (just use google, then type in your major once it brings up your school's database) and OMG it's a huge help. It basically breaks down into 8 semesters what classes you need to take. As long as you follow it, you should be on track to graduate in 4 years. This will show you what classes are required in what years, how many electives in each subject you're allowed to take, and how many hours you need to be scheduled in each semester. I have about 6 copies all around my house all marked up with different classes. 
Print yours out and familiarize yourself with it. Know what classes are required and how many hours you need so that you'll be better prepared for step 2. 

2// Go through the Course Catalog
This can be found by googling your school's course catalog (ex: LSU Course Catalog 2017), and it gives you all of the courses that are possible to take in any field for that year. Of course, not all of those are offered every semester, so it's important to highlight/write down all of the classes that seem interesting to you because you may need them later. I then take all of those that I highlighted/wrote down and make two lists - ones that are required for my major and 'extra electives'. Both of those lists will come in handy in the future, but also for steps 4 and 5 every time you have to schedule. 

3// Plug those classes into your Degree Path 
Make sure that the classes that you've chosen fit with your degree. For my major (Political Science), I have tons of elective classes (or Gen Eds) so I can pretty much schedule whatever I want, besides a few required courses. However other majors, like sciences, don't have very much lee way at all, so make sure that you haven't picked 4 history electives when you're only allotted two, etc.
 
4// Check the current Course Offerings
This will tell you when the classes you want are actually offered for that semester. I usually plan out a few schedules that I'd like to have (ex: only Monday Wednesday Friday classes or all afternoons off, etc), but it also allows me to see which of my classes might be offered at only one time, which therefore gives it higher priority and dictates which planned schedule I can actually go with. This is the time to really think about when/if you're going to work, how early you want to wake up, when you concentrate best, etc. and plan a schedule according to those things.

5// Schedule your classes 
People often get very stressed about this one, but it's actually my favorite. I usually set an alarm on my phone for 30 minutes before my allotted time to schedule and then I grab my computer, my planned schedules, and the list of interesting classes that I wrote out earlier. That helps in case a class I planned is full and I need to switch it out for another one (usually an elective) without scrambling around last minute to find a class that fits my degree path. Each school's database will be different, but usually you type in the class like this POLI 2051 for political science, FREN for French, stuff like that, and it will bring up all the available sections (times, teachers, and buildings where it's offered). Then, you just pick one and click "add to schedule". It's that easy! If you've done the planning work ahead of time, then even if you end up not being able to get into a class because it's full, you should have a few others just waiting on your extras list! 
 
Hope this helps some of you who are scheduling right now, especially for the first time, but as always, you can shoot me an email (gold little mail icon at the top right) if you have any more questions!
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