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No matter what year of college you're in, the goal is to make it to graduation, one semester at a time. Right?

Each semester's class schedule gets you one step closer to your goal.

What's In An Ideal Class Schedule ?

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An Ideal class schedule:

  • Meets the academic requirements of your academic program/major and graduation

  • Has an average of 15 credits or 15 to 20 class hours per week

  • Keeps you on track for the next semester and a timely graduation

  • Has a balanced course load and difficulty level

  • Makes time for nonacademic tasks — commute, meals, rest, extracurricular activities

  • Dedicates 2-3 hours of study time for each hour of class time

Start With A Master Schedule

Know Your Courses!

Familiarize yourself with your academic program's requirements. Make a master list of courses for each semester all the way to graduation.

Include prerequisites and co-requirements in your master list. Overlooking a prerequisite or corequisite could complicate your schedule and delay your graduation.

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Make a spreadsheet with courses.

Organize and categorize your courses into semesters and/or years, mandatory courses, electives, courses of interest, and backup courses — in case desired classes fill up quickly.

The cursor arrow scrubbing though the columns on an excel spread sheet

Research The Courses

Get the details!

Courses vary! Use the course website or handbook to get more details about courses' availability and complexity.

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Details help you decide the ideal place on your schedule for each course. Mix and match to find a balance that's just right for you.

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  • course objectives

  • syllabus

  • professor

  • teaching methods

  • assessment criteria

  • when and how often it's offered

  • course requirements and prerequisites

  • location

  • duration of lecture

  • tutorials/labs/practical sessions

Scheduling Methods

Choose between an intense schedule with back-to-back lessons and a few days off or a more balanced schedule with classes spread throughout the week.

Balanced Schedule

Spreading out your courses makes the days more manageable.

Pros: balanced, smooth daily pace, a mix of long and short lessons, good for focus and retention

Cons: more days on campus, fewer long breaks, limited opportunity for part-time work

An example of a schedule spread across with week with ample breaks between sessions

Intense Schedule

Stacked lessons are intense so they're not for everyone. You can stack your classes so that you get, mornings, evenings, or a few days free

Pros: large blocks of free time, part-time job possibility

Cons: back-to back-classes, requires high motivation and long focus, good time management, possibly many exams and assignment deadlines on the same day, higher risk of burnout, time lost catching up on sleep, short/no breaks between classes

An example of an intense schedule will lesson stacked on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Monday and Wednesday have no classes.


Kari works 3 days a week at the local bookstore. She wants to have all her courses on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9am to 9pm, with a 45 minute lunch break. Which of these would make it IMPOSSIBLE for her to have this schedule?

Make Breaks Productive

Gaps between classes can be time gained or wasted.

Breaks longer than 60 minutes can be productive if you manage your time well. Avoid too many breaks shorter than 60 minutes. They eat away your time and it's harder to get much work done.

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Mind the gap: Short Breaks

Good for small tasks — getting to next class, stretching, eating, bathroom break, checking mail

Bad for — going to the library, completing assignments, part-time job, doing research, catching up on lost sleep

Fill the gap: Long Breaks

Good for focus driven activities — research, assignments, group meetings, going to the library, catching up on sleep in the lounge

Bad for waiting around for the next lesson

Always schedule time each day for eating and getting across campus to the next class.

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Make A Preliminary Schedule

Make a tentative schedule before course registration opens.

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  1. Fill in 15-20 hours of class time — first the compulsory courses, then electives then backup courses, if needed

  2. Leave time to move between classes and for a lunch break

  3. Add academic and non-academic activities — study, rest, part-time job, meetings, etc.

  4. Find the balance — move classes around to balance each day's workload

  5. Get feedback from peers, seniors, advisors

Kari's Schedule

Kari has an International Business lecture on Tuesday morning from 9:00 to 11:00. Her advisor suggests moving it because it's too early and too far from the Physics class she has to attend at 11:00.

Kari's  Sample Schedule with colour coded lessons and classes spread out from Monday to Friday.

These are her options:

A: Monday afternoon between Applied Math (ending at noon) and Physiology (starting at 4:00)

B: Wednesday afternoon between Applied Math (ending at ending at 1:00) and Physiology (starting at 2:00)

C: Thursday morning at 10:00, before her Physics lecture at noon

D: Thursday afternoon between Biostatistics (ending at 2:00), and Physics (starting at 4:00)


Refer to Kari's schedule. What's the best option for Kari to move the lecture?

Take Action

Invest some time in putting your class schedule masterpiece together!

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