The weeks that precede each semester can have a big impact on the months that follow. Picking out the right classes can make the difference between an interesting class and a truly difficult, well, semester. You will surely have specifically required classes, but it is possible to compromise your must classes with your maybe classes. Make life easier on yourself and take the time to pick out the classes that you will, to some extent, enjoy.
Two-year or junior schools, are typically far more flexible in terms of scheduling, and credit alternatives than traditional four-year universities. For adults who intend to earn a degree without leaving their career and for students who are not interested in the campus activities offered at other institutions, community colleges offer a chance to earn credit for general courses at any pace and on a schedule that meets the specific needs of each student.
If you don’t trust anyone, you have other options. Most colleges and universities will ask professors to pass out evaluation forms at the end of the semester. As much as some professors would like to hide these under their desks, they are filled out for a reason. If you can’t find the complete results online, ask your counselor if some of the information is available. A list of top professors should be floating around somewhere.
The third option is searching for professor ratings online. Sites such as rateyourprofessors.com carry a large listing of reviews from students attending nearly every US college. These ratings are broken down by ease, overall rating, and, of course, hotness. How can you resist?
Find out which classes you must take to complete your major. To avoid burn out, take some difficult classes each semester. Classes that are major-specific tend to increase in difficulty each year. You may have to complete some of the lower level classes in order to move on to the harder requirements. For this reason, it’s a good idea to fulfill some difficult general education requirements during your first two years. If you are a history major that cringes at the thought of hyperboles and molecules, consider taking care of those classes first. If you’re not careful, you may realize that it’s time to take your 400-level history class…and Calculus II…and Chemistry.
It is also important to keep track of the requirements you have fulfilled and those that still need to be completed. It’s not that you shouldn’t trust counselors, but let’s just say that counselor-related tragedies are not far and few. When you speak with your counselor, ask him/her for a requirement checklist. Cross off what you have fulfilled after every semester. Check the list, and then check it again. When graduation is around the corner and you find yourself one class shy of a diploma, you might be upset to say the least.
Ok, timing isn’t everything, but it is important. I don’t recommend signing up for a class just because you would like to sleep in until 1, but you should pay attention to class timing and spacing. If you are not a morning person and your assignment notebook hibernates until 11 PM, avoid early classes. Be realistic. If you always stay up late, it will be difficult to change your ways. Falling asleep in class will not help you pass tests. Find a good medium between choosing early classes and those that don’t start until the afternoon.
Paying attention to how much time you have between classes and to how much time you have to get to them is also important. If you have a day with 5 classes that are 1.5 hours apart, you may be worn out by the time you get home. Likewise, classes that give you 10 minutes to get from one side of the quad to the other are a bad idea. It is best to have a compact schedule that still gives you some room to breathe. This will help you make the most of your free time. You can’t completely plan your day, but do your best to make it user-friendly.
Take the time to think about your classes before you pick them. You’ll be surprised at how far an hour or two (or three for over-achievers) will go in the long run. Believe it or not, it’s not that hard to feel burnt out in college. Setting up a good schedule can help you avoid that feeling.
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