Congratulations, all the hard work your highschool self poured into academics and extracurriculars has paid off. You’ve decided to further your education, your favorite schools decided to accept you into their academic programs, and your parents decided to use the room you’ll be leaving vacant to house their growing collection of Phil Collins memorabilia. Ok, maybe the last one is just me, but the point is universal. You are about to ease the transition into adulthood by buying the very expensive set of training wheels we call “Higher Education”. Like any good set of training wheels, you will be provided support to help you keep your balance, but you better be willing to provide the leg power. You’ll receive an email outlining the first steps: housing forms need to be completed, financial aid and scholarships need to be finalized, and dorm room essentials must be acquired (No mom, I don’t need one of your Phil Collins themed popcorn machines. And why do you have three of them?). One of the most daunting tasks is also one of the most important: building your course schedule. Here are some tips to help you assemble your dream schedule. 1. Discover yourself If you don’t completely understand yourself, the world around you, and the relation between them… Then congratulations, you’re just like most other college students! Luckily, college is also about finding yourself, a freedom-focused period where you are empowered to continue developing your personality. Even though you may not have everything figured out, try your best to make some basic assumptions about your preferences. Are you pursuing higher education for the diploma, or because you have a legitimate desire to learn? Are you a morning person, or a night person? If you can take Fridays off, will you use that time to study or to watch Netflix? Will you be working during the semester, and if so, when? All these questions will help you build a schedule that will enable your future success, in and out of the classroom. 2. Decide which classes you wish to take. Which classes should you take? Should you load up your schedule with major-specific classes, or get your gen-eds out of the way? This onslaught of decisions can be overwhelming at first, but you’re in luck: your school likely provides a whole suite of resources to help you answer these questions. The most important of these at your disposal is your advisor, who you can and should reach out to for assistance. Most schools have rich course catalogs that allow you to search for a specific class or all classes in your major. If your feeling especially diligent, you can outline which classes you will take for each semester until graduation. This is not necessary, but make sure to double check that the courses you take this semester will keep you on track with your major's requirements and prerequisites. If you don’t know which classes you’re required to take, check to see if your major has a spreadsheet or flowchart outlining its requirements. Do your best to make a final decision now. If you don't, the best case scenario is that you have to rebuild your schedule, which can be very time-consuming if you do it by hand. Worst case you could find yourself frantically searching for the right course before your schools add/drop period ends. A bit of extra research now can save you a load of time and frustration down the line. 3. Prioritize classes. Some courses you will be taking are prerequisites for future courses, meaning that you must take them at the right time unless you want to risk bungling your course schedule for the rest of your college career. Making sure you get into these classes should be your highest priority, not weedling your way into that course on the history of beer (yes yes, I know it’s tempting). 4. Build your schedule Option 1 (the old way): Grab a pencil, paper, and a good eraser Now for the fun part. Acquire a pencil, paper, or a calendar/planner if you have one. Alternatively, you can use one of many free course schedule organizers online. Pencils (or keyboards) in hand, It’s time to visualize your schedule. Begin at the top of your priority list and pick the sections that mesh with your time preferences. Remember to block out time for work, extracurriculars, and free time! Make sure to include any corequisites, lab sections, or seminars that a course requires. You don’t want to finish your plan just to find that one of your courses had a lab that conflicts with your most important class. Option 2 (the new way): Online schedule builders Many schools have purchased software that will do all this work for you. Automation, right? For instance, YouScheduler will build every possible schedule with your chosen classes, then display them to you for your leisurely perusal. It even allows you to input custom breaks, pick specific sections and teachers, and export your schedule to the calendar application of your choice. Does your school lack a schedule builder? Think it would be a good investment for your future alma mater? Send a request for them to acquire a schedule builder software by reaching out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!