One of the things that we often forget about in all the worry about social events and clubs is that our class schedule is really important. Making sure to get in all your requirements while not overwhelming yourself is really important, and a big step in making sure your college experience keeps you happy and healthy. Here are a few tips for making a class schedule that will work for you.
1. Avoid 8am classes
This one is a total cliché, but it’s actually really important. Some people come in to college and think that, because high school started at 8:00, then 8am classes will be the same. Keep in mind, however, that college is full of late nights and much more stress than high school. Combine that with the fact that there is little accountability for attendance in large lecture halls, and it’s easy to get into the habit of skipping a class here and there, which can have a major impact on your grades. Avoid this situation and feel more organized and refreshed in the morning by starting your classes at 9 or later. That hour makes a huge difference.
2. Try to “bunch” your classes together…
Regardless of what time you decide to start your classes, try to bunch them together in the morning or afternoon. This way, not only can you get everything done at once, but it makes it much easier to schedule other activities like extracurriculars, study hours, and regular meal times. It’s really difficult to make time to study and get any significant chunk of work done if you have class between 9 and 6, with only hour long library breaks in between.
3. …but don’t bunch too many into one day
Similarly, it’s really difficult to pull of 12 hour days consistently and keep your grades up. You’ll really start to dread getting up for your early classes and might begin to sleep in past them, or decide to head back to the hill before your 7pm lab time. Especially when taking early morning or evening classes, try to limit the number of classes in the day. Be warned: it’s really hard to motivate yourself to study at 10pm when you got up at 7 for class.
4. Give yourself a day off, if possible
It’s really nice to have a day to study, catch up, and sleep in. It isn’t always possible, but if you can get a Monday or Friday without class, it can work wonders on your mental health and sleep schedule. Remember that academics are very important, but that you need to take care of yourself too. Time management is much easier when you can schedule big tasks and daunting assignments on a day when everyone else is in class and you have time to focus.
5. Don’t put too many full days in a row
Just like the above tip, remembering not to overload yourself several days in a row is key to avoid being overwhelmed. Sometimes, it is unavoidable to schedule extra-long Wednesdays full of classes, but making the following Thursday a little lighter can help out a lot. This way, you can take care of all your work during your time off and feel a bit more balanced in your workload as a whole.
6. Get as many GEs out of the way as possible
Remember that your GEs are a huge component of your education at UCLA. In fact, some schools won’t allow you to continue in your major if you have not made adequate progress in your GE requirements. Try to take at least a couple of GE classes every quarter. There are definitely fun extracurricular classes that you will want to (and should!) take advantage of, but don’t allow those to become your priority. Making progress on GEs and major requirements is much more important.
7. Don’t overdo it on units
Students at UCLA are allowed to take 19 units every quarter. You can petition for more units, but we recommend against doing this unless there is a very specific reason for it, like a class that is only offered once a year or a big requirement that is hard to get in to. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself, and you definitely won’t be able to follow the rest of these tips if you take too many units at once. A heavy course load is alright – but remember that 19 units is a heavy course load. Don’t force yourself to bite off more than you can chew — these restrictions are in place for a reason, and that is that historically, students will see a drop in GPA at higher unit loads.
8. Don’t be afraid of changing your schedule around during the first week
If you notice that you feel like you’re rushing around to each of your classes and don’t have the time you need to feel successful, consider taking a look at your class schedule. Lots of people switch around their courses during the first week of the quarter. Just be careful to make this decision fairly early. The longer you wait, the more work you’ll have to catch up on, so trust your gut instinct on whether you need to switch things up and go with it.
These tips are just a jumping off point for how to build a schedule that will work for you at UCLA. While building your schedule, keep in mind your extracurricular activities, sleep habits, and study techniques, and use those with these tips for a successful quarter!