BY ANTON LUCANUS
You’ll be able to exercise some level of control over your classes, but you’ll probably face some restrictions to ensure you’re taking your baseline required courses, and are on track to complete the coursework for your major. Between sorting through these requirements and your own personal preferences, you could easily end up with a schedule of classes that’s hard to manage or build a routine around.
For example, you might have early morning classes two days a week, but you might not start until late in the afternoon the other two days, making it hard to develop a consistent routine. Or you might have two classes near each other with an awkward time gap, like two hours, between them.
Learning to manage a chaotic schedule like this is one of the best skills you’ll develop during your college career—and it has the potential to follow you well into the future.
Keeping Track of Your Responsibilities
Your first job should be finding a way to attend classes as consistently as possible. Because you won’t be following the same 8am-3pm class schedule every day of the week, it will be easy to forget which classes you need to attend which days.
There are different systems you could feasibly use to stay organized in this way, but the ideal route is to rely on the best calendar app you can find. Calendar apps will keep everything tightly organized and automated for you; you’ll receive regular notifications when a class is coming up, and you can also plan the rest of your schedule around due dates, exam days, and other major academic events. If you prefer not to use apps for some reason, you could always use a system of sticky notes or a physical planner to keep track of your responsibilities.
Your next priority should be sleep. New college students often willfully sacrifice their sleep schedules so they can handle their academic responsibilities, but also have plenty of time to socialize and entertain themselves. If you have a chaotic schedule, it’s going to be even harder to get the recommended hours of sleep every night. However, even one night of missed or low-quality sleep can have a profound effect on your alertness, cognitive abilities, mood, and even your physical health.
One of the best things you can do for your sleeping habits is keep them consistent. If you have class at 7am one day and 1pm the next day, you might be tempted to wake up at 6am day one, then sleep in until noon the next day. However, it’s better for your body and mind to wake up consistently at 6am, even when you don’t have to. It’s also a good idea to schedule ample hours of sleep; so if you wake up at 6am, count back 7 to 9 hours and set a firm bedtime between 9pm and 11pm.
Making the Most of Your Gap Time
It’s incredibly awkward to have a prolonged period of time between two classes, with not enough time to get back to your dorm. Learning to make the most of this time can help you stay sane and tackle some of your most important responsibilities at the same time. For example, you might be tempted to scroll through one of your favorite social media and buy likes for an hour, decompressing from your first class and preparing for your second, but this may not be the best use of your time.
Instead, you could work on consolidating your notes from the first class, organizing and reviewing your work, or you could start outlining your plans for the final essay. If you feel exceptionally tired or fatigued from the first class, consider finding a good place for a power nap before your next class begins, or find someone to help write your stud notes to free up time.
Working With Your Professors
Inevitably, as you’re managing a staggered and complex class schedule, you’re going to run into obstacles; you may find it difficult to get to class on time because they’re so far apart on campus with minimal time between them, or your scheduling difficulties may make it hard for you to hit certain assignment deadlines.
If this is the case, work proactively with your professors to find a better solution, for example task management software such as Time Clock Wizard. Most professors are understanding, so long as you’re proactive and willing to work hard. Ask them for alternative assignments where it’s appropriate to do so—just don’t take advantage of their flexibility.
Learn from your experiences with a chaotic schedule and apply them to your choices in classes in the future. Did you struggle to succeed with this staggered schedule? If so, try to make accommodations for something smoother and more consistent in the future.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and academic goals