Summer break is finally here, and as you dive into vacations and Netflix binges, fall semester seems like a lifetime away. Your upcoming class schedule is probably the very last thing you want to think about right now, but trust me, you want to consider it carefully to avoid a semester of misery. Your class schedule is the biggest component of your college life, so read below for six secrets to make it your best one yet!
Use the MTSU Schedule Planner
What’s one of the most underused resources for MTSU students? Hands-down, the wonderful Schedule Planner. This tool allows you to select the classes you want to take, choose your preferred class times (morning or afternoon, for example), and even set the preferred length of your lunch break. It then generates a series of example schedules and allows you to further narrow down your choices by class section, so pay attention to the professor and the building location. You can even see how many open seats are left in each class, and you can download and print your favorite schedule so you’ll have all the info you need when it’s time to register. Remember that this tool only builds example schedules. It doesn’t actually register you for classes, so don’t forget to head to Pipeline at your assigned registration time.
Balance is key
This should go without saying, but you should always try to balance difficult classes with easier ones. It’s tempting to try to take a whole semester of classes you know you’ll enjoy, and then stack all the classes you don’t like in one semester just to get them over with. This is a great way to kill your GPA, though. You’re likely to breeze through one semester and find yourself in academic purgatory the next. Your grades are heavily influenced by the way that you group your classes, and taking a balance of easy and difficult courses each semester is one of the simplest ways to keep your GPA afloat. Also, be aware that taking 12-hour semesters in your freshman year will mean that you’re in for 18-hour semesters somewhere down the road if you want to graduate in four years. Though it’s tempting to take it easy your first year, aim for 15 hours each semester so you don’t end up getting behind.
Consider walking time
It’s a common rookie mistake made by freshmen everywhere: not taking into account the distance between buildings when creating their class schedule. Always, always check the campus map if you aren’t sure of the distance between two buildings, especially if you’re only allowing yourself ten or fifteen minutes between classes. A good rule of thumb is to try not to stack your classes that close together unless they’re in the same building. A quick walk between classes may seem totally doable, but some professors regularly go over their lecture time, and you don’t want to arrive at every class in a sweaty mess because you had to run a mini-marathon to be on time.
Consider parking time
While you’re calculating the walking time between classes, you should also consider the time it’ll take to find a parking spot on campus (if you’re a commuting student), and how far you may have to walk between your car and your class. Many students only calculate the driving time between their apartment and campus, but be aware that you may spend a significant amount of time trying to find a parking spot, and you probably won’t be able to park as close to your classes as you’d like. Always leave early enough to give yourself plenty of parking and walking time, and be aware that parking is most limited in the middle of the day (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), so if your first class falls within those hours, you may want to arrive extra early. It may be helpful to drive around campus before the semester starts and figure out which parking lots are closest to your first classes, and which lots would be good backup plans.
Be honest about your habits
At some point in your college career, you’ll probably be tempted to take a class that falls outside of your normal daily routine. Maybe you’re hoping that an 8 a.m. lab will magically morph you into a morning person, or a three-hour night class will leave you with a ton of free time during the day. Three words: don’t do it. One of the worst mistakes you can make when building your class schedule is choosing classes that will significantly alter your regular habits. If you never pull yourself out of bed before 10 a.m., an early morning class is a bad idea. If you’re a morning person, but you need to nap every afternoon, don’t take night classes. Switching up your schedule on purpose will only lead to a semester of misery and lost sleep (and probably lots of skipped class). Do yourself a favor and just be honest; build your schedule around what your habits really are, rather than what you want them to be. Here is Tyler Henson, director of the MT One Stop, discussing the how you need to Make It Count by scheduling to meeting with your academic advisor to make sure your class schedule is staying on track with your financial aid package.
Don’t be afraid to ask
So you’ve found the perfect class—great professor, cool subject, good time and location—aaaaand it’s already full. Before you throw your hands up in frustration and vow to change your major, remember that you should never be afraid to ask for a seat in a full class. Email the professor, explain how badly you want to take their class, and ask if it would be possible for them to add one more seat. Many professors are excited to have a genuinely interested student, and they’ll do their best to add you. At the very least, you can always email the department secretary and ask to be added to the waiting list for that class, so that if anybody drops it, you’ll automatically receive their seat. Never discount a class just because it’s full!