Choosing your class schedule at CU Boulder is a vital part of your college experience. It dictates how you spend your week, as well as your weekend, and the path you follow on your way to your degree. There are many choices to be made for your class schedule, such as length of class, time, day and professor. Here are some tips for choosing your schedule at CU Boulder, or any university, to maximize study time as well as make time to hang out with friends or do other fun things you want to outside school.
1. Careful of Long-lengthed Classes
Classes usually come in three different lengths of time, at least at CU Boulder. Units (or Credits) are typically given out three per class per semester, which usually entails three hours of that class in one week. There are usually three different options for how to split up those three hours during the week, although not all classes or professors offer every option.
There are 50-minute classes which are usually split up into three days per week- generally Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There are also twice a week classes that usually last up to one hour and 30 minutes and happen on Tuesday and Thursday, or occasionally Monday and Wednesday. Another option that is usually limited to only some classes is a once-a-week class for three hours. Although this option may sound very tempting being able to knock out a class in one day- proceed with caution.
Long classes may seem like a no-brainer so that you have more free time during the week to study or hang out with your friends but there are some aspects to consider. Once-a-week classes are generally three hours long which can seem like an eternity compared to the typical 50-minute lectures you also take during college. Of course, the professor will give you some breaks but it can still be difficult to stay completely focused the entire time- especially if you stayed up late studying for that exam later in the day. Another danger of the once-a-week class can be the amount of content the professor needs to fit into just that one day of lecture. There needs to be a week full of lecture material crammed into that one day. Thus, throw the vague notion about occasionally skipping right out the window. Not only do professors make it impossible to skip with penalties such as lowering your grade, but the risk of skipping one lecture means you miss an entire week’s worth of class. On the other hand, some people really benefit from the once-a-week long lecture. Some benefit from a longer lecture allowing them to better absorb the information or prefer having classes where skipping is out of the question thus inhibiting the temptation of staying home. Avoid the “Fear Of Missing Out” that comes from being stuck in class while your friends are all having fun!
2. Avoid Long Breaks Between Classes
Choosing the time slots for your classes is a really important part of setting your schedule for the week. Classes come in numerous time blocks throughout the day at CU Boulder that can range from starting times at 8 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. This should be decided carefully based on the kind of person you are. For example, if you are absolutely not a morning person but signed up for 8 a.m. lectures multiple times per week you may need to rethink your schedule. Even though 8 a.m. doesn’t necessarily sound very early it can feel like the crack of dawn for those unaccustomed to waking up early or those who like staying up late hanging out with friends, studying or watching Netflix. A class starting at 10 or 11 in the morning may be more suited for those students.
However, the most important aspect of choosing the starting times of your classes that you need to consider is the breaks between lectures. Having to wait two or three hours between classes can make your day much longer and give you less free time. For example, trying to cram in a session at the gym between lectures can be more stressful and less fun than being able to go after you’re finished with all your classes for the day. The ideal daily class schedule has your two or three classes happening close together- possibly with a short break between them for food or last-minute homework/studying. This way you don’t need to make multiple trips to campus which is especially important if you live off-campus! Also, this gives you more time either in the mornings or afternoons for studying, going to the gym, hanging out with your friends and overall being able to spend more time at CU Boulder doing what you want to do and not just stuck in class or on campus all day.
3. Strive For Three-Day Weekends
A cardinal rule that you’ll hear from many college graduates or upperclassmen at CU Boulder will be: Never have class on Friday. An unspoken law of college is that Friday is fundamentally considered the weekend and should be a day of sleeping in, no studying and going out and doing fun things with your friends. Of course, this is easier said than done. Only a couple classes typically offer a Monday/Wednesday lecture schedule which would just leave you with strictly taking Tuesday/Thursday lectures. It’s very unlikely you’ll be able to take all the classes you want and need to in order to fulfill your graduation requirements on time.
If possible, however, it can be an awesome semester if you don’t have class on Friday! Having a three-day weekend can make a big impact on your social life opening up the entire day for being with your friends, exploring your college town and more! Alternatively, having Monday off can also be great for your semester. Some classes offer a Wednesday/Friday schedule, combined with Tuesday/Thursday classes, leaving you with an open Monday. Although this isn’t the same kind of three-day weekend as having Friday off, it can be great having no class on Monday giving you the entire day for homework or studying for that exam later in the week.
4. Choose Your Professor Wisely
The final piece of advice for setting your class schedule is to choose your professor wisely. There are a few different ways you can approach this. You can ask friends and classmates if they had certain professors about how they were. It can be important to ask how approachable/nice they are, what kind of study resources they offer if they forbid electronics (laptops or tablets for notes), their policy on missing class and how difficult their exams are. If you find that many students who had a certain professor really didn’t like them then it probably goes without saying it may be in your best interest to look for a different one.
Another way to decide on a professor can be to look them up on a professor rating site. Websites such as ratemyprofessors.com offer peer reviews from previous students about teachers and their classes at CU Boulder and other colleges. There are other sites as well and some prove to be more useful than others based on how recent the ratings come and how in-depth the reviews get. It won’t always prove fruitful and you won’t always find every professor on one of these sites but it’s something worth looking up if you have the time before signing up for classes.
As a final piece of advice: Don’t neglect your classes. The temptations of college come in many shapes and forms but don’t let them steer you away from the reason you’re there in the first place. These tips for choosing your schedule can be things to consider but shouldn’t be treated as absolutes. Sometimes it’s unavoidable to have long classes or class on Friday due to your major and the classes you’re required to take. However, if you have the options and the time to weigh them then it’s worth it to structure a class schedule that lets you live your college experience at CU Boulder to the fullest!