Class Scheduling Dos and Don’ts for First-Year Students

Setting up the right class schedule for your first semester in college is crucial to your academic success. Find advice here at it. If you weren’t a morning person in high school, it’s not likely that will change when you enter the halls of ivy. In fact, an 8 a.m. class could mean disaster for your first semester in college. And while the time of day you schedule a class is important, it’s not the only consideration. Number of classes, days of the week, class location—these are just a few of the things you’ll want to think about before you click the send button on your first-semester class schedule. Here are some tips for creating a college class schedule that’s right for you.

  • Do look over the course catalog and familiarize yourself with the class offerings before arriving on campus. If you’ve decided on a major, determine which required classes you’d like to take in the beginning. Then, schedule some additional courses that seem interesting—or that will fulfill the college’s core requirements.
  • Do schedule a good mix of classes. For instance, you might want to sign up for a writing class, a reading class, and a problem-solving class at the same time—but not all writing classes or all reading classes. Too much of one type could be overwhelming.
  • Do meet with your advisor before scheduling classes. And be sure to prepare a list of questions beforehand.
  • Do sign up for a writing class. If taken during your first semester, it will prepare you for future classes.
  • Do schedule a first-year experience class, if it’s offered. These classes teach students about goal-setting, using campus resources, and making the most of the college experience.
  • Do make a list of alternative class choices in case the classes you select are full. At many schools it’s not uncommon for underclassmen to have trouble getting into their first choices.
  • Don’t over-schedule. A weekly schedule of at least 12 credit hours is generally considered a full load (this varies by school), and first-year students probably shouldn’t schedule beyond that. While it may not seem like much class time after spending the entire day in high school, you’ll soon discover that college classes are more rigorous and demand more of your out-of-class time.
  • Don’t sign up for all hard or all easy classes. Consider what’s going to be your biggest challenge and make sure you mix it up with something less intense. For instance, if you struggle with math, you may want to pair it with some language arts classes. Or, if a science class requires long lab hours, be careful not to overbook it with another similar course.
  • Don’t postpone your core requirements. Not only will this free up your schedule for your major classes down the road, but taking core classes early on could help you uncover some additional interests you weren’t aware that you had.
  • Don’t schedule early-morning classes if you don’t function well in the AM hours. On the other hand, if you are involved in social activities or a job later in the day, you may want to get classes and studying done while the day is young.
  • Don’t overlap classes. Remember, you’ll need enough time to hike from one class to another. Also, be careful not to schedule all your classes on the same day. Instead, spread them throughout the week so you have plenty of study time as well.


This article was written by Lori Murray

Freelance writer Lori Murray lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three children. In addition to writing for several national and regional publications, she is an adjunct writing instructor at Columbus State Community College. Lori can be reached through her Web site at


  1. Tom Thorisch

    I work for a state university. How about mentioning to first year students that they should familiarize themselves with the various libraries on campus and getting to know some librarians, who can mentor students? College classes are about academic learning, libraries are an important part of that.

  2. Jerome

    12 credit hours is not a full load. I have 16 and I’m doing fine, as are most of my friends with 15-18.

  3. Jennifer

    12 hours is typically considered full-time by the university, but you can usually take up to 18 hours without paying extra. 15 hours a semester is recommended if you want to graduate on time.

  4. Stephanie

    Do you have to take 4 years of English and all that in college? Or just one? I’m not sure.

  5. lee

    Okay, I’ve decided to go finally go to college after taking a longer than exspected break after graduating and I would like to know what are the basic classes I need for my first year in college.

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