Class Scheduling Guide for First-Year Students

A major perk that college offers that high school doesn’t, is the flexibility in class scheduling. If you were not a morning person in high school, you may likely benefit from enrolling in day or evening classes in college. For your first semester or quarter in college, you may feel extra eager. But, it’s best to avoid overextending yourself as this can backfire into a pure disaster. Some considerations when putting together a doable class schedule include the number of classes, class location, and days of the week you will be going to school versus going to work if you plan to get a part-time job or internship.

Keep these pointers in mind as you craft the perfect first-semester class schedule:

  • Get a good grasp of class offerings before it’s time to select classes. By familiarizing yourself with the classes being offered each semester well before it’s time to submit your class schedule request, you’ll avoid accidentally overlapping classes. This will also help you easily sub out first-choice classes that filled up sooner than expected with potential back-ups. It is not uncommon for freshmen to have trouble getting into their first-choice classes as many institutions give priority to upperclassmen.
  • Make sure your schedule is well-rounded with a variety of course subjects, in varying difficulty levels. Too much of one subject realm can be overwhelming, so we recommend signing up for a few different classes like writing, science, and arts, for example, to vary it up. This can go a long way in preventing burnout. With an extensive catalog of courses to choose from in college, this shouldn’t be a big issue but is something to be mindful of when crafting the perfect first-semester schedule.
  • Meet with your advisor to get feedback on your prospective class schedule. Have a list of questions ready to ask, and get someone else’s opinion on whether you have created a tentative schedule that will set you up for success.
  • Avoid over-scheduling. Having a full-load is only as great as you can handle it. First-year students might want to ease into college life by taking about 3-4 classes to start each semester. You’ll quickly learn that college classes are much more rigorous than high school classes, so it’s totally normal to take fewer courses at a time. Remember that in addition to attending classes, you will also have to set aside time outside of lectures and discussion periods to study, complete assignments, and prepare for exams. Many science classes require long lab hours, so this is another thing to think about to avoid overbooking.
  • Be mindful of class locations and ensure enough time to get in between each. Unlike in high school, college campuses can be much bigger, with classes spread out from one end to the opposite end. If you plan to adopt a similar approach to high school where you want to block your classes back-to-back, then you’ll want to account for plenty of time to get from one place to the next. If you haven’t already yet, it may be worthwhile to walk around your college campus to get a feel for where your desired classes will be before committing to a schedule.
  • Spread out your classes throughout the week. This way, you have plenty of time to study each day, and enjoy time for yourself, too! Don’t forget that self-care is key for health and success in college.
  • Don’t postpone your core requirements. Having a good mix of general education courses weaved in with your major classes is a fantastic way to keep things interesting. If you still aren’t fully committed to a major, then taking core classes early on can help you discover new interests that you weren’t aware you had. It’s a win-win!
  • Consider your strengths and weaknesses, and tailor your schedule to them. For example, if you know that you struggle with math, you may want to limit yourself to one math class per quarter, and pair it with a class that will allow you to exercise your creativity and offset potential stress, such as a language arts course. Finally, if you are not a morning person, take advantage of the choice to sign up for day or evening courses so that you are fully alert and can give your full attention to new learning material.


Going from high school to college is a monumental transition. You may not realize just how intense college classes can be compared to high school classes. To avoid burnout and failing right off the bat, it’s best to create a modest schedule to start and add to it as you get a better idea of what you can handle. Colleges often provide students with a window of time where they can either add or drop classes (typically a week or two) without penalty. Don’t compare yourself with your peers, and instead focus on what you know you can manage, so you can enjoy the college experience, too!