Being a first-year student at uni can be pretty bloody exciting. Your new-found freedom makes you keen to kick off the next chapter in your life, especially when you have so much freedom in crafting the perfect uni timetable.
It certainly beats the rigid schedule that you were forced to repeat week by week in high school.
But with great power comes great responsibility. The excitement of being at uni can quickly fade when you’ve organised a bright and early 8am tutorial on a Monday and are struggling to haul yourself out of bed after a big weekend.
To avoid this, and maximise your chances of actually turning up to class, here are some tips on how to master your new timetable.
1. Plan ahead
Once you’re all enrolled into your subjects, often there will be a list of times that lectures and tutorials are scheduled.
Write all the subjects, dates and their times down in a spreadsheet so you’re visually aware. I do this every semester and create preference lists. This way, I’ve given myself time to think and customise my timetable so it suits me personally.
It’s also worth noting down which days you’ll be working and what sort of shifts you usually get, as well as any other regular commitments you can’t avoid like training sessions or family dinners.
2. Don’t over-cram
The appeal of cramming as many lectures and tutorials as you can into one day is that you think you’ll have more days off. This is a trap.
Slamming yourself with class after class means you’re going to start hating your days on campus and you’re more likely to start skipping.
If you’re looking to try and cram it all in one day, at least give yourself a two hour break around lunch time. Not only will you allow your brain to rest but around lunch you’ll see uni life come alive- most clubs and activities host events during this time.
Avoid 8am starts (you hate waking up early) and 8pm finishes (nobody should be at uni after dark unless you’re smashing out a last minute assignment).
2. Don’t leave massive gaps
Nothing kills motivation than an 8am start and a seven hour break till your next class. The temptation to skip one class will overcome you and before you know it, you’ll find yourself skipping more and more classes until you realise you haven’t seen the inside of your classrooms since O-Week.
If you’re like me and have to attend uni four days a week, you’re going to get real tired of waking up and attending campus for a tutorial that runs for an hour. That’s not even considering how much it’ll add up to actually commute to and from class- no wonder uni students are broke.
Try and keep your uni timetable to two or three days and even though you need breaks throughout the day, massive gaps will only serve to slowly kill your motivation to earn your degree.
3. Allow travel time
Make sure you factor in how long it takes you to get to campus but also how long it takes you to walk through campus.
Classes tend to finish five minutes before the hour but they can (and often do) run over. Keep this in mind when scheduling back-to-back tutes and think about how far apart classrooms will be- don’t unnecessarily leg it across campus when you could have chosen an alternative class that was next door.
If you do end up being late, you can always use the excuse that you couldn’t find parking. It’s 100% believable, particularly when your tutor isn’t even there yet because they too couldn’t find a free space.
4. Make sure you’re aware of when classes open
If you take one piece of knowledge out of this article let it be this: getting the perfect schedule is like The Hunger Games.
Most (if not all) of the students in your cohort want the classes in the ideal time slot and spaces fill up fast.
Make sure you’ve got your timetable log in sorted before classes open (forgetting your password is a sure fire way to end up with a semester of 8am starts).
As soon as class selection opens get on it. This is where your preference list comes in handy- you know exactly what classes will work for you and if you do miss out, you’ve got your back up plan already sorted.
The amount of arranging what you can do with your timetable is going to depend a lot on what you’re studying, how flexible your subjects can be and also your working schedule.
But it’s always handy to make sure you’re prepared for the best and the worst outcomes when it comes to your uni timetable so you can enjoy your semester a lil more.