A Day In the Life: What a Typical College Schedule Looks Like

If you didn’t love going to high school classes for seven hours a day, then have no fear. College schedules are quite different from high school. While the stakes might be higher, the typical college schedule is usually freer. Here’s what a college schedule looks like and a breakdown of the similarities and differences between high school and college schedules by category.


Here is an example of what a routine day in college may look like. But remember, everyone’s schedule will look a little different. And that’s the beauty of a college schedule versus a high school schedule. You can usually tailor your college schedule to meet your needs or preferences. 

Typical Student Schedule Template.


  • The start of the day. Sleep in until 5 minutes before your class or wake up early to exercise your body in the gym before you exercise your brain in the classroom. For some, a few extra minutes of sleep is the best way to start their day. For others some caffeine or some adrenaline is better.

  • 9:00-10:00 AMFirst class of the day. A lot of people may tell you not to sign up for the early classes, but sometimes you can’t help it. Sometimes it may be best to get up and get the day started early so that you can enjoy your evening. And sometimes it’s all that is available. Especially if you’re not first in line to sign up for classes.

  • 10:30 AM First break of the day. Grab a cup of coffee, hit the gym, or review your notes from your first class of the day. You’ve got a few minutes before your next class, so use it to start your day off in whatever way works best for you.

  • 11:00-12:30Second class of the day. This one is a little bit longer, and it’s right around lunch time. Pack a snack if you think you might get hungry during class. At this point, you’re already almost halfway through your school day!

  • 12:30 – 1:30 PM – Lunch time. Meet up with your friends at your favorite local restaurant or take your books with you to the nearest campus cafeteria. You’ve got a little extra time to socialize or study if you need to. If the weather is nice, take your meal outside to the campus greenspace, quad, or courtyard.

  • 3:00-4:00 PMLast class of the day. This one may feel a little late. After all, in high school you were usually done at 3:00. But you wanted bigger breaks in between classes and opted for a later class to give you a more spread-out schedule. If it doesn’t work out for you this semester, then next semester you can sign up for a more consolidated schedule with classes back to back.

  • The rest of the day. This is where some of the flexibility and free time can get challenging. The evenings may be utilized best with a balance of rest, relaxation, and preparation. Spend time out on the town with your friends, but don’t forget to study for your classes and rest up for the next day. 



High school curriculum is usually very set and structured. Everyone is taking the same thing, with the exception of accelerated levels of core curriculum or a variety of electives to choose from. In college, however, the curriculum is extensive. Freshman year of college will still focus primarily on core curriculum, somewhat similar to high school, but each year after that will get more and more specialized as you get further into your chosen major. 


While high school classes are often more student centered with activities like group work or project based learning, college classes are often more lecture based. And while high school may have only had one or two options for a specific course to take, college will have many more options. If you prefer morning classes, you can sign up for morning classes. If you prefer certain professors, you can sign up for their classes. 


Many college classes will range from 60 minutes to 90 minutes. The amount of time you spend each day in classes will depend on how many “hours” or “credits” you sign up for. High school classes follow the traditional schedule of 8:00 to 3:00, but a college schedule is more flexible. The amount of time each student is in class each day will depend on their major, their course load, and their schedule. Most classes in college will meet two or three times a week, often either on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule or a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule. 


Breaks in high school often look like a few minutes between classes, a study hall in your schedule, or your standard lunch break. In college, however, breaks can be much longer. Because the breaks are often longer, you have more flexibility with what you do. You can study during the day so that you can be social at night. Or you can workout in the middle of the afternoon instead of early in the morning. Many people will schedule their classes around their lifestyle, thinking about their “down time” as well as their class time. 


Meals, unlike high school, are on your own time. In high school there is typically a set time when you are allowed to eat, and it is often a very short amount of time. But in college, students will have to fit meals into their own schedule. In college, you have more options for both time and location. Head off campus to eat at your favorite restaurant or check out one of the many on campus dining options that are available to you. 


At the end of a day in high school, it is likely that students have a decent amount of homework. Each subject that they had that day will have given some type of assignment, whether large or small, that is probably due the next day. In college, you’re likely to get less little homework assignments like this. Instead, you might have fewer but bigger assignments. 


As you can see, you’ll still have the basics of school — teachers, classes, homework, breaks, meals, etc. But the timing and schedule of those things will be a bit different. 


The biggest difference between a high school schedule and a typical college schedule is the timing. Therefore, one of the bigger challenges of college is time management. With a college schedule you will have more large chunks of free time throughout the day. However, you will have less accountability and authority over you directing you with how to manage that time. Many college students struggle with this new feeling of freedom within their schedule before eventually finding a balance. The right balance of school and social will yield the most well-rounded college experience. 

One piece of advice when it comes to college schedules: If a schedule one semester doesn’t work well for you, then switch it up next semester. Each semester, you get the opportunity to try something new if you need to.