Advice on Creating Your College Schedule

If you’re headed to college this fall, you’re probably attending orientation this summer at your chosen school. An important part of orientation is having students create their fall class schedule. This is often why it is encouraged to attend orientation early before classes fill up. Orientation leaders usually walk freshman through the online scheduling tool and will help them make informed decisions. As a soon-to-be college freshman, this can be intimidating. It’s probably vastly different than your high school scheduling procedure and allows an immense amount of freedom over your own education. There are scheduling options for all types of people–whether you avoid mornings, dread the afternoon slump, or wish for one day without any classes, you can probably make it happen–though it will likely take some tinkering.

A schedule open to a monthly page.

Browse your college’s catalog.

Your college website will most likely have a course catalog online. We recommend browsing it before you attend orientation. Not only will this familiarize yourself with the functionality, but also you can start to formulate ideas about what you may be interested in taking. Jot down some courses you find interesting, along with ones you might know are required, and ideal times for you. Keep alternatives in mind as well because your desired classes may be full by the time you register.

Don’t avoid your core/general education requirements.

While postponing them may not even be an option at some schools, we do recommend diving into these right away. These are generally intended for freshman so it is a great place to get acclimated to college classes and meet friends! In contrast, also schedule some classes that you are interested in or could see as a possible career. It is likely you’ll have some gen ed courses you put off until the end, but don’t make it a lot.

Find balance in your college schedule.

It is important to find the right mix of general education courses, interest classes, and a balance between subjects. Take an equal amount of analytical and creative courses so you aren’t loaded with one type of subject for an entire semester. Also, it is important to keep in mind balancing your time. Some people may enjoy getting their classes done in one big block, while others would rather have breaks sprinkled in. Keep in mind what other activities you may have going on. If you work, volunteer, or are involved on campus it should be fairly easy to transition to and from class. However, if you work off-campus, it may be more helpful to schedule all your college classes in the morning, then go to work in the afternoon, saving time for homework in the evening.

Ask questions.

This can be one of the hardest things to do when you are making your first major decision alone. If you are unsure whether you’ll make it from one class to the other in the allotted ten minutes, ask! The people helping you will give honest feedback about what getting across campus is like. Additionally, ask the leaders if they have taken certain classes and have any advice about the work required, professors they preferred, and if they found it beneficial. Talking with other people on campus can often give you far more in-depth information than the course catalog’s snippet.


It is perfectly okay if you don’t love the classes you chose your first semester. Maybe you were one of the last to register and you are in all 8 a.m. classes even though you’re a night owl. This is not the end of the world. See it as an opportunity and a learning experience–you may not have been the early bird that got the worm, but now you’re going to be! Most people require a few semesters to truly get scheduling down and understand what their preferences are. Every semester will get better. For now, be proud of yourself. You just created your schedule for your first semester of college!

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