In high school, each of your courses was worth 1 credit. You work hard to get through your four classes so you can graduate. Sometimes in high school, you can go without studying for a couple of weeks for one exam and still do well.
In university, they’re on to you. You cannot and should not go without studying for an exam or assignment; do not ever skip an assignment because “it is only worth ten percent”. Ten percent is huge. And your finals will be even huger. On the plus side, you decide your workload. If you can’t handle four courses, take three and so on and so forth.
My first year was hectic and stressful. My goal with this post is to inform you so your first year is ten times better.
This was what my Fall 2010, my first year, looked like:
Looking back now, I cringe. I did not do so well in first year, and this was one of the many reasons why. Five courses is a full course load and a full course load can be very, very painful if you don’t build it properly.
Things to consider when building your schedule:
- One thing a lot of first-year students don’t realize is how much time they will be putting toward each lab and class. When you’re deciding on your course load, consider this rule of thumb: for every one hour you are in class or lab, you will be studying for two.
- Your Part-Time Job: How many hours do you absolutely need to have? 20 hours plus is really pushing it. In my first term, I should theoretically have been studying for 46 hours every week. I worked for 30 in actuality. Very bad.
- Sleep and the Devouring of Delicious Food Stuffs A.K.A. Eating: These are basic necessities. You will die if you do not eat or sleep.
- Going from Class to Class: In November, it gets cold. Really cold. And icy. Really icy. Look at the campus map and decide if it is possible for you to make it from CCIS to Med Sci in ten minutes with a heavy backpack dragging you backwards.
- The Weather: I live on the west end of Edmonton. It takes me about an hour to get to class. Longer when it snows nice and heavy and there are 200 accidents in one day. Consider this when scheduling yourself for an 8 A.M. Physics lab–or, heaven forbid, Chemistry lecture.
- Learning: Good study tip: go over your notes right after class, or at least the same day of class. Pound that information into your head. How hard is your schedule going to make that for you?
- Socializing: the dog needs a belly rub, your brother wants to play Halo, your friend has a party coming up, and your mom and dad forgot what you look like—make time for the important stuff that has nothing to do with books and grades.
If you’re uncertain, ask an adviser. As I’ve said before, help is there, you just have to ask!