When you’re picking your courses for your first year it’s nice to think you’ll be a hero and attend every class, but it’s going to be harder than you think. In high school you go to school from 9:00-3:30, which is shorter than university which goes from 8:30-4:30. If you’re living on your own then you will have to make yourself breakfast and make your way to campus. In your first year many people suggest you take a partial course load. If you choose to take a partial course load in your first year, you will quickly find yourself enrolled in the five year plan as opposed to the four year plan. If you are worried about keeping up with your studies it’s worth it to check out your universities policies on voluntary withdrawal. Some universities give you two weeks starting from the first day of school to get a feel for the courses you are in. If you are allowed to drop out or switch courses within those two weeks without financial consequences, then sign up for a full course load. Since you won’t be charged anything extra, you can drop some courses within two weeks of class if a full course load is too much.
Check out the syllabus
On your first day of class you’ll be given a class introduction and a course syllabus. In the first week you’ll get a good taste of the course material and you’ll be able to see what the rest of the semester will be like. From there you can see if you can handle all of your classes. Sometimes it’s best to shuffle your schedule around in the first year so your harder courses are in different semesters from one another.
Another thing you can do is check out different course sections because some professors will set up their course differently than others. For example, if there is a class that is offered at four different times, try to get the syllabus from each section to see which class you like the best. Personally I like to have my class broken down in small parts so I always know how I am doing and there’s not much pressure on the final exam. An example of a good breakdown is;
- 20% – Quizzes
- 25% – Midterm
- 15% – Assignment 1
- 10% – Assignment 2
- 30% – Final Exam
If the course section you’re in only has a midterm and a final exam it might be a good idea to get into another section if you don’t do well under a lot of stress. First year courses such as Biology 101 have several different sections making it relatively easy to find a section to best fit your schedule.
Related: The Power of Rate My Professor
Electives Can Be Used To Sample Different Faculties
If you don’t know what to do in university but you have a fairly good idea you want a science degree, then take a balanced approach where you take an even number of faculty related courses and electives. Electives are used in every program that I have heard of and are usually saved for later on in your degree. When used in your first year you can “sample” other programs to get a feel for them. A certain number of electives are required, so you won’t be wasting time or money. In fact many students switch their degree path based on one of those electives and end up better off!
Keep your weekends free
This was my personal preference but I didn’t like Monday morning classes or Friday afternoon classes. I tried to set up my schedule so I would be able to have extra-long weekends every weekend. This would allow me to leave campus early to drive 200 Km home for the weekend and it would give me time to get back in school mode on Monday morning. Besides, the last thing you want to do on a Friday afternoon is a chemistry lab. If you want to go the extreme route you can take all of your classes on Tuesday and Thursday but be prepared to settle in for some pretty long days…
How did you like to schedule your classes? Any tips to add?