Tips To Structuring Your First Year College Classes

Your first year at college can be daunting and a little confusing as you try to grapple with harder classes and new schedules. One of the many things you will have to learn is how to structure and schedule your classes. You have to be careful not to cram too much into some days while leaving little or no classes for others. The key is to strike the right balance between classes and free time.

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These few tips will help you with structuring your classes for your first semester of college.

1. Meet with Your Advisor

Don’t be intimidated by your advisor. Your academic advisor is there to help you not only schedule courses, but also with finding a study group, discuss whether you should change majors, and can tell you which professors may be suitable to your academic needs. If you have any questions about what’s required of you or scheduling in general, talk to them sooner rather than later! 

Some schools will even schedule a meeting for you with your advisor to take place during orientation!

2. Take Required Classes

Some classes, like Freshman English 101, are required for incoming new students. You cannot skip these! They have to be a part of your first semesters at college. Schools may have additional requirements for college students including topics like “Introduction to College,” “Diversity and Inclusion,” and others. When creating your schedule, start with these times and build the rest of your schedule around them.

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3. Start Knocking Out General Requirements Now

Everyone has to take general requirements, so you may as well take them now. It’s likely those required classes are part of your general requirements, but they’re not all of them! From math to science, you’re going to have to take them before you can start on your major courses. It’s a good idea to knock them out now so you can focus on your major in the years to come.

4. Take a Class That Sparks Your Interest

“General requirements” doesn’t mean your classes are boring. You generally have a lot of leeway in the types of courses you can take – and there are going to be ones that spark your interest. Take them! After all, you will have to take electives too to graduate. 

Always wanted to learn how to make clay pottery? Sign up! Interested in paleontology but don’t necessarily want to major in it? Give it a shot. Elective courses that spark your interest but also cover class requirements are a great way to burn off a little pent-up energy as well as provide a creative outlet and quench your curiosity thirst.

5. Don’t Over-Schedule

Full-time college attendance is anything over 12 credits, but 15 credits are generally the recommended amount to graduate in 4 years. You might have some semesters where you take 16 or 14, but the average should be 15. Some students, though, take 18 credits or more per semester, but sticking to 15 your first semester is a good idea, especially while you adjust.

However, it’s important, to be honest with yourself, your goals, and your scheduling before overdoing it. Too many classes can easily lead to F’s in several of them. And 5 classes are not the same thing as 5 classes in high school – you will have a lot more work and responsibilities!

Your schedule should also account for extracurriculars, relaxation, study, homework, clubs, exercise, work, and any other responsibilities and activities.

6. Take Classes in Time Slots That Fit Your Schedule

Classes that begin at 9 or 10 a.m. are hugely popular for a reason. They are not so early that you struggle to get out of bed and they are not so late that you start to get used to an easy schedule. Waking up for your 9 and 10 a.m. classes can be beneficial to your sleep schedule.

However, it’s important to keep your schedule in mind. Are you someone who doesn’t wake up fully until noon even with coffee? Or just does better as a night owl? That’s okay – you can generally work your schedule into afternoon and night classes to best fit your needs. 

Some may argue with you that this type of approach to your schedule is “lazy” or you need to be up at 8 am – but you really don’t and it’s anything but lazy. You’re just being honest with yourself and giving yourself the best chance of succeeding! There will be classes where you have no choice and have to wake up at 8 am because it’s the only one available, but that will likely not be now. 

First-Year College Classes

If you ever have concerns about your first semester classes or your schedule at college, be sure to reach out to your advisor as soon as possible. They can answer any questions you may have or get you in touch with someone who can answer them if they can’t! It’s important to take the right approach to your first semester classes or you could be regretting it for the next four years!

While you don’t have to select your major just yet (most schools require it by junior year), it doesn’t hurt to have some subject in mind! College Raptor’s Major Search tool helps you find the best areas of study for your goals, interests, and needs in education. Use it today for free here!

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