You must admit that in high school, course selection is pretty limited. The variety that you are able to choose between lacks diversity. You are rarely allowed to request a specific teacher and you never get to choose the time or days for any of the classes you’re taking! Thankfully, University is different. Apart from having mandatory courses to take (Depending on the program that you are in) schedule selection is completely dissimilar than what you are used to (If you are soon to be a first year student!) As thrilled as (soon to be) first year students are for their freedom of choice, many of them also find themselves overwhelmed by the challenge at hand. While eager students bite off more than they can chew by packing their schedules full of challenging courses, others opt for a super simple schedule and end up becoming disengaged and bored.
So although there is not a formula to schedule making, I am here to tell you what I have learned (from my three older siblings and Brescia staff) about the art of creating a perfect schedule.
By finding a balance between your needs, the requirements of your major and Brescia’s guidelines, it is possible to create your dream schedule (This being said, your friend’s might be completely different since everyone has different requirements and desires).
1. Plan your schedule ahead of time!
There is no point in waiting until the actual day of course selection to create your schedule. Both Western and Brescia already have their course calendar up! (You can access them both here http://www.brescia.uwo.ca/academics/Register/fall_winter_registration.html). By creating “mock” schedules with a few variations, you leave yourself wiggle room incase a course is full by the time you register for it. This eliminates your chance of having to sift through “left over” elective choices since you didn’t plan any backups. It also ensures that you have the pre-requisites and do not have any anti-requisites for the course.
2. What time do you work best?
Most courses are offered at multiple times or even on different days of the week. This is definitely a benefit to students since it allows them to take into consideration their sleep patterns. If you are a night owl, opt for later classes since that is when you focus best. On the other hand, if you enjoy waking up early choose the class that is offered earlier in the day.
3. Less is more sometimes!
Take into consideration whether you prefer sitting for three hours all at once, or 1.5 hours twice a week! Not only are courses often offered multiple times per week, they are also offered with different time slots. Some students prefer sitting for less time because they lose concentration. Others would rather be more “efficient” and sit for a longer period of time once a week rather than having the class twice per week.
4. Are you excited by a challenge?
Sometimes it is tough to choose between a bird course or birdbrain course (For lack of better analogy). While bird courses often offer less work, the course material can become quite boring quickly. Birdbrain courses offer a challenge (And definitely involve the audience) but are sometimes overwhelming. So what do you do? Aim for balance! Making a balanced course load really makes a difference- it is easy to fit in both easier and harder courses by interchanging them (Divide up the hard courses between the two semesters and fill the gaps with easier courses)!
5. Choosing a PERFECT professor!
As I’ve mentioned, courses are often offered multiple times, for different time periods, at different time slots AND… with different PROFESSORS (I just added that one, don’t worry you didn’t miss it!). Since websites such as “rate my teacher” are not all that trustworthy, you might prefer to ask older students (Both Brescia and Western’s Main Campus have Facebook and online forums) which professors they prefer. This being said, everyone has different learning styles so it is better to ask a couple friends for opinions rather than basing your choice solely on one person’s advice. THEN AGAIN, all of Brescia’s professors are unique and inspirational so you really cannot go wrong!
6. Do you know your strengths and weaknesses?
Why bother taking an English course when you dread language courses and essay writing? At the same time, if you are majoring in Fine Arts, there is no sense in taking Chemistry since it is probably not your passion! University success will come easier to you if you acknowledge your own limitations and assets.
7. Plan ahead!
I admit that it is difficult to plan your future (Especially when you are only 17 or 18) but it is important to plan your university career with the end in mind. Although it can be fun to “test out the waters” by exploring your interests and broadening your horizons, it is also important that your undergraduate courses are steering you in the right direction. By ensuring that your first year schedule is setting you up for second year courses (Most second year courses have pre-requisites so be sure to consider that when choosing your schedule), you will be less stressed by the time you go to create your second year schedule.
8. Did you know that you can ask for advice from experts (No I am not an expert unfortunately)?
Brescia has TREMENDOUS counselors that are willing to sit down with you before finalizing your first, second, third or even fourth year schedule. As Christine mentioned, there is a summer orientation day for first year students (http://www.brescia.uwo.ca/admissions/accepted_students/orientation/index.html). Don’t worry if you haven’t decided on your dream job, counselors will help to guide you depending on which departments you are most interested in. If you have already created a draft of your schedule, they will help make sure that your course selections are a good match with your prospective majors and academic skill.
In all, the purpose of this post was not to overwhelm you, but to remind you that being on a new campus doesn’t mean that you are alone! There are SOO many resources and tools available to help you make informed decisions. It is possible to create your perfect itinerary, with perfect courses, professors, time-slots and class lengths!
For those of you who have chosen your courses, what did you consider in making your schedule? Is the professor more important than the timing of the class, or do you value the course material over the time in which the course is offered?