5 Ways To Customize Your Class Schedule
Creating a class schedule tailored to your needs can make a drastic difference in the quality of your educational experience. Five key factors that can affect your course of study are program requirements, class difficulty, amount of classes, time of day, and instructors. Whether you are in high school, college, or graduate school, when all of these elements are in balance, you will find that your school year will be more manageable and you will be on track to achieving success.
1. Fulfill Your Requirements
First, you need to make sure that you are fulfilling any requirements you need to complete your course of study. Most schools provide outlines for your requirements in booklets or online. Once you know your requirements, be sure to schedule enough of these courses to stay on track to graduation. You should also check with your school counselor or program department for assistance with determining the best path to complete your course load.
2. Assess Class Difficulty
At each educational level, you will still have an opportunity to choose classes to challenge yourself. The level of difficulty can be determined by the complexity of the topic, class assignments, and time needed to study. For example, in high school you can take Honors, AP, or IB classes, which often require extra projects. In college and grad school, there are topics such as Astrophysics that may take some extra study time to grasp key concepts.
It is important to challenge but not overwhelm yourself during the school year. When choosing classes, assess each class and estimate the amount of work it will require. Once you have assessed your classes, you may find it may be a better to postpone some of the harder classes and mix in a free elective or two to balance out your schedule. See Effective Class Schedule Planning to learn specific tips on high school, college, and grad school schedule planning.
3. Choose the Right Number
In most cases, the phrase the more the better applies, but when it comes to your schedule of courses, this may prove false. You may be tempted to fit in as many classes into your timetable as possible, but this can often backfire because you simply do not have enough time to complete all of your work, study, and get adequate rest.
Course load minimums are often a great guide to the right amount of courses to take. If you are a full-time student, you may have to take a course load minimum. The minimum requirement is often created for you to graduate on time, so use it as a baseline. If you wish to take more, make sure you assess the difficulty of each class before adding it to your baseline. If you are a part-time student and have a more flexible schedule, you can then choose to take summer classes or fewer classes to spread out your work but beware that this may extend your graduation target date.
4. Find Your Peak Times
Find the time of day that you have the most energy and use it to your advantage. Your peak time is the time of day when all of your cylinders are firing and you feel ready to take on the world. Most people are night owls, early birds, or somewhere in between. If you are an early bird, be sure to register early morning classes. However, if you are a night owl, you may find that noon may be the time you feel most energetic, so use this as an indicator as to when to start your day. For late risers in high school, try scheduling your most challenging classes for a later time during the day, if the option is available. By following your natural body rhythm, you will find that you learn and retain more information, which leads to success.
5. Pick a Good Instructor
Not all instructors use the same teaching methods, so choose instructors that are a great match for you. It is important to research your instructors by getting input from previous students and talking to your school counselor or mentor about the best match for your learning style. Other key factors to consider are your instructor's additional helpers such as teacher assistants and availability of office hours. In the cases where you do not have the option to choose your instructor, you should still try to meet with the instructor and ask for additional help where you need it. You can also join study groups, visit the student help center, or hire a tutor to make up for gaps in your study.
Making a great class schedule can pose a serious challenge but if you take the time to plan, you will be amazed at how much easier your educational journey can be. Follow these five outlined steps and you will be cruising through your day-to-day activities with ease.
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