Add, Drop, Switch: Everything You Need to Know About Course Scheduling

Last updated on 14 Dec 2017

photo-1435527173128-983b87201f4d.jpeg Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

By Rebecca Isjwara

After years of scheduled classes and top-down course-taking decisions, it’s hard to imagine that we’d be in control of our own schedules upon entering university. However, given that most university degrees are customizable and adjustable to every student’s needs and requirements, the university would generally have a recommended study path but the ultimate decision on which course (or in some countries, module) to take when is completely in your hands. Here is everything you need to know about scheduling classes:

1. Review your existing schedule

Most universities would pre-register you into modules or courses that are essential to your degree. They would usually be uploaded to your student learning management system a week or so before the semester starts, so it’s a great place to start. First of all, it is important to verify your schedule and check if there are any important classes you are not enrolled in by comparing your schedule to your peers’. In addition, now that you know which courses you’d be expected to take this semester, try to find out more details about the registered courses. For example, are you ready to take that level of material the semester? Have you fulfilled the prerequisites to take this course? Knowing these bits and pieces could help you navigate through your pre-registered classes easier.

2. Check your degree requirements

Next, compare your class schedule to your degree requirements. Some degrees are stricter than others and would have certain boundaries, such as only allowing students to take no more than two elective modules in any given term. Be sure to check out any other requirements that might not be scheduled. Do you need a math module to graduate when it’s nowhere to be seen? Check the recommended study path provided by your university and see how this semester or year’s schedule fit in there.

3. Draft a university course plan

The rule of thumb would be to follow the study path provided by your university, because you can’t go wrong with that. However, universities are flexible and allow for study path adjustments, such as going on an exchange (with or without being able to transfer back those courses to your home university’s credit requirement) or graduating a semester or two early. Mapping these options out on a spreadsheet would allow you to make any adjustments and see how you can better plan your years in university.

4. Consult with your advisor

Upon realizing that classes are customizable, universities would usually assign you to an academic counsellor or advisor. If not, you could always approach the staff in your department as well. These people are especially useful to consult with when you’re veering off your study path for reasons such as graduating early or switching majors halfway through university. They could also provide some experienced advice, such as students often find taking course A and B at the same time tough, so they would let you know on tips like these that you wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. Plus, having them verify your schedule would prevent any hiccups down the road.