Crafting the Perfect Schedule for Next Semester

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Everyone has been there. Sitting in front of the television searching for something to watch on Netflix, but you just can’t seem to find anything. There are so many choices, so many good shows, but you’re overwhelmed and just can’t pick one. Scheduling classes for your next semester can feel like this Netflix horror story. There are a nearly infinite number of ways to organize your schedule, so which one should you choose?

Big course load = big problems

Overloading anything is generally not a good idea—things break, people break and the work doesn’t tend to get done any faster. Making a schedule is the same way. You need some down time. “Every student needs a balance of hard work and time to meditate, contemplate and just be creative,” said Arnel Bulaoro, assistant director of multicultural student programs and services at Notre Dame. Don’t exhaust yourself with too many courses during the week or homework at night; save some energy for doing the stuff you really enjoy on the weekend. Overloading your schedule is guaranteed to give you more homework to take away from your sleeping time, as well as your coffee budget.

You only learn once

Sometimes the best courses and professors in your schedule are going to be the ones outside of your home department or major. Even if it does throw a wrench in your perfectly planned schedule, the elective is probably going to be worth it. “Sacrifice having a perfectly balanced schedule of classes to take more truly interesting courses with great instructors,” said Dr. Holly Martin, associate dean of the First Year of Studies at Notre Dame. You only get a few chances in life to truly go out on a limb and explore new and exciting subjects. In college, you’ll be able to work with experts and leaders in these fields, but as soon as college is over, you’re stuck reading Wikipedia articles and watching documentaries. Go out on a limb and take that random elective. Seize the opportunity and savor every minute of it.

Less is almost always more

Nobody really likes that guy who’s a double major in something like astrophysics and biology, and thinks that it makes him a lot smarter than every single major out there. Please don’t be that guy. While it may broaden your job possibilities, you’re not going to have the same flexibility in your schedule as a single major. “Only major in what you absolutely love. A good education will allow you to learn about that class or major that just wouldn’t fit during your free time,” said Dr. Bulaoro. Sometimes less is more, and studying what you love is more likely to take you further than any double major ever could.

Aprenda un idioma ahora

“Schedule language as soon as possible so that you have time to develop some actual proficiency,” said Dr. Martin. For most people, learning a foreign language is not as easy as they make it look on Rosetta Stone commercials. It takes a lot of work. If you start it too late, you could find yourself in an interview as an upperclassman trying to flaunt your grasp on the language, but in reality speaking gibberish and making a fool of yourself. Also, it’s a good idea to take a new language you’ve never learned before. Who knows? Maybe starting a new language could open the door to some study abroad or service opportunities down the road that you never before considered.

Confront the beast

Don’t go into scheduling blindly choosing professors about whom you know nothing. That’s almost as bad as walking through the streets of New York City wearing a blindfold—something bad is bound to happen. “Go to the professor’s office and talk to them yourself. Great professors will be willing to talk,” said Dr. Bulaoro. Trust yourself, and don’t be nervous. You’ll learn more about things about their classes that course descriptions can’t describe. They won’t bite (hopefully).

Just like finding the perfect show on Netflix, creating the perfect schedule to fit your individual needs is not going to be a walk in the park; it is going to take some elbow grease and hard work. Don’t torture your future self, but make it manageable. You’ll thank yourself later.

I am a freshman at the University of Notre Dame majoring in American studies. I love Ohio, coffee, music and everything ND.

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