Happy Monday everyone! For those of you who watched the livechat last night, I hope you enjoyed it (I definitely had fun answering your questions for the last hour of the chat). If you missed it, you can see the recording under the “Live Chats” link.
Anyway, we had a great question last night about how easy or difficult it is to register for classes. I’ve found it to be incredibly simple here at USC, and I am happy to say that I have gotten every class that I’ve wanted. With that in mind, an incoming student has so many different combinations of schedules that will work for them, since they are not necessarily limited by which class they can get into. So the question is, how do you pick one schedule combination over another? Here are some of my tips for scheduling that I have found useful so far.
Learn if you prefer “blocking” or “breaking up” your classes.
For the record, those aren’t technical terms, but I think they describe my point perfectly. My first schedule here at USC was an example of “breaking up” my classes. Essentially, I scheduled my classes so that I had gaps in between most of them, so that I could go back to my dorm and take a break. Initially, I was really excited to do this, since in high school, I didn’t have this opportunity (I would be in class from 7:45 AM to 2:45 PM, end of story). However, as great as breaking up my classes seemed, I found out later that it really didn’t work well for me. I would end up wasting those precious hours in between classes, not really doing much and just waiting for my next class to start. I felt like I was in class all day, when in reality, I wasn’t in class for very long.
The next semester, I decided to “block” my classes. I would essentially have all of my classes in the mornings, and then I would have the rest of the day free after ending class before lunch. This allowed me to get a part time job, and get more involved, since I had larger chunks of time that I could get more work done. So for me, I found that blocking my schedule was the best. However, I have some friends who really like breaking up their schedule, since they can go home and take a nap, or get some studying done. The main thing is to find what works best for you, and use that to your advantage.
Don’t schedule “quiz” periods on the same days as labs.
As a Chemical Engineer, many of my core science classes have lab periods, where you spend a couple hours working on a specific experiment. Some classes also have a “quiz” period, which is a time that you fit into your schedule, where you take your midterms. These periods only meet a few times a semester, but they still have a place in your schedule. Once I got my “blocking” strategy down, I ended up scheduling lots of classes on the same day as my quiz period, in an attempt to block my schedule better. But then I would get very stressed out in anticipation of my midterm, especially if the lab didn’t go so well. I would recommend lightening the load on days that you have a quiz period, since you won’t realize how frustrating it is until you have your first midterm in that class, which may be part-way through the semester.
I have tons of tips for scheduling, since I find it really fun to do, and I’ll probably continue this blog when it gets closer to Freshman Orientation season. Until then, I hope that this was a cool introduction to the freedom you get in college to pick your schedules!