The Perfect Schedule

This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.

Meeting with an adviser is essential, but there are things you can do to make the process of registering for classes a lot easier. For one, it helps to know what the upcoming semester may have in store. Are there family obligations you anticipate? Do you already know that you’ll need to get a part-time job to help cover tuition? You should know the answers to questions like these before registration, so you’ll have the best chance of succeeding with the course schedule you’ve designed for yourself. Here are some things to keep in mind prior to registration:

Know Whether You’re a Morning Person

If you’re not a morning person, you can plan to start your day later, like at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., rather than 8 a.m. This is a dramatic shift from high school when the day started at 8 a.m. if not earlier. Know when you work best and plan to be in the classroom during your peak performance hours.“Get a balance of classes you feel will be both do-able and challenging.”

Will You Need to Get a Job?

If at all possible, get a good idea of what your work hours will be and plan your schedule around this. Be forewarned, though: it’s difficult to maintain a strong GPA and work off-campus. The good news is that colleges offer Federal Work Study programs to qualifying students based on their financial aid. If you don’t qualify for a Federal Work Study position and need to work, visit your school’s human resources department to see what jobs are available on campus for students. Working on campus allows you to still be in the academic climate while not having to travel to and from your dorm off site. In short, working on campus is much preferable to working off campus.

What Major Are You Leaning Toward?

In most cases you don’t need to know your major as a freshman, so don’t worry if you’re unsure. Most freshmen are undeclared. However, it’s good for you to have an idea of where your interests lie. If you are trying to decide between English literature and French or information technology or engineering, you should try to get in at least one of these classes as soon as you can to help you make the decision between majors and allow you to begin planning for the future.

The Right Balance

The number of credits you register for is entirely up to you, but in order to remain a full-time student, you need to be enrolled in at least 12 credits per semester (this is roughly four 3-credit hour classes). Try to get a balance of classes you feel will be both do-able and challenging. The last thing you want to do is sink your GPA, especially if you have a scholarship.