Student Life: Planning your next semester…

This is simultaneously my most favorite and most hated part of a semester.

While it’s great to see the progress you’ve made towards graduating, it is also the most stressful part that you have to complete in a short window of time.

I hate that it comes during the middle of the semester, right when you have 20 other priorities to take care of, but if you don’t plan right then, then you end up registering for classes you don’t need or have at shitty times in the day. And sometimes you have to have advising codes from your adviser, so now you have to plan a meeting with your precious open time to trek across campus to have a 20 minute meeting with an adviser who sees you as a name on a paper (not to harsh on them, but if you’re like me, you don’t have time to go to a meeting every week with an adviser instead of studying or going to office hours or going to study groups or working so there’s no way to get to know each other)

So how do I plan my semester when I have a shit ton on my plate?

I plan in advance.

I set up a spreadsheet before the semester starts and spend a day planning out my course loads. My school has several references to check for being on track for graduation, what typical course loads for majors should look like, and graduation requirements for each major or program. If these materials aren’t easily accessible through your program’s website or the Register’s office website, then email your adviser. They’ll be more than happy to send you the materials.

Now that you have everything in front of you, break down your course load for the next semesters. My college provides a general breakdown of how each semester per year should look, e.i. what course a freshman should be taking for their first semester or what courses an on-track senior should be taking their last semester. If this isn’t available to you, you should still be able to access a required course list and the register’s office to see the pre-reqs and availability of the course.

From here, I work out the expected course load for the next semesters (however many you have left). Take into account courses you can take earlier than expected (from good placement exams or concurrent enrollment, or AP exams that gave college credit) or classes you’ll have to put off until after you finish the pre-reqs.

Now that you have the plan, put this aside until you need to start prepping for registering for the next semester. From the list of classes you think you need to take for the next semester, see what are available for registering or what has time conflicts with a required class.

It’s a bit of an involved process to set up the plan, but it’s worth it when you get to the middle of the semester and you need to register for the next semester because everything is ready to go. The list is there and ready for you to reference when needed. It also really helps when you go into your advising meetings because you know exactly what you need to do on your end to achieve your goals.

But once you have the plan in place, it makes it so much easier to work harder knowing that you’re not going to have spend 3+ hours flipping back and forth between 6 different tabs to try to register for classes, especially when you should really be studying for midterms.

This is also a good time to take into account all the things you sucked at this semester and plan ahead for the next. So maybe that way of note taking didn’t work out for you, or maybe you spent too much time procrastinating on flash cards than on reading the material. So work harder for next semester; research note-taking strategies, look into apps that disable your phone for study time, get better pens. Find what’s going to make you better in the long-run.

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