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A student registering for courses.
June 3, 2019
3 mins read

Thinking strategically about your course schedule

A schedule can be an integral part of your university experience—and a little bit of planning can go a long way.

The timing of your classes impacts your attentiveness, your energy levels, and even your enjoyment of each class.

I’ve tried all sorts of schedules to very mixed results, but by considering a couple of details, I’ve found a way to craft a schedule that works best for me.

Here are some things to consider:

Location, location, location

UBC is a big campus and the 10 minutes between classes is not a long time. I have spent a semester or two dashing from Woodward to the Museum of Anthropology like Michael Scott when he thought there was a fire in the office and it’s definitely a stressor.

So, it’s important to think about the location of the courses in your schedule. Will it be feasible to make it from Location A to Location B in just 10 minutes? Is it possible to schedule your courses close to one another? It’s always nice to leisurely stroll between classes and chat to all the new friends you’ll meet—that can be hard when you’re on the run from Buchanan to Forestry.  

Early birds and night owls  

Some people thrive in the mornings and others really, really do not. I’m firmly in the second camp. Mornings are not pretty. That’s okay—everyone has different needs and preferences!

Take some time to think about the timing of your schedule. Will you sleep through those early morning classes, or be ready to hit the hay halfway through your night class? Everyone has different peak performance conditions, so plan accordingly!

The 3-day weekend

A 3-day weekend is the dream and, with so many course offerings, it’s a possibility at UBC. Consider if you want to stack your courses over a few days and take a sweet long weekend, or spread them throughout the week.

Remember, the idea of a couple days off a week might seem perfect in theory, but 8 hours of class in a row might be more intense than you imagine.

In the past, I’ve enjoyed the pacing of a 5-day week, but I’m looking forward to trying the first 3-day weekend of my degree next term.

To break or not to break?

Some people treat their class schedule like a sprint, done all at once without stopping. Others see it as a marathon, a slower journey with stops along the way.

It can be great to finish in 3 hours instead of say, 5, but it’s also really nice to have some time to unwind throughout the day. Also, if you have any last minute homework to finish, these breaks in the day can be lifesavers.

I personally like to line up all my courses without a break, so I can spend the rest of the day doing other things!

Days of the week

Typically, UBC courses run for 1 hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and for 1.5 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While this difference might seem negligible, it impacts your schedule and the course experience.  

Sometimes an hour seems too short, while in other cases, an hour and a half stretches on for what seems like infinity! Likewise, meeting only 2 times a week might make it more difficult to get engaged with course content, while having 3 classes a week might become overwhelming.

So, consider what works best for you in this regard. I like a mixture of both—a couple Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, and a couple Tuesday/Thursdays. Variety keeps things exciting!

Planning for the future

Summer is here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning ahead for the Winter session.

Winter courses have now been released, so you can get experimenting. With registration for the Fall term beginning in mid-June, now is the time to plan your schedule!

While it’s important to think carefully about your schedule, there are always things outside our control. Maybe 8:00 am is the only time an important program requirement is offered, or maybe a 3-day weekend is just not possible. That’s okay! It’s all about trying new things, and finding what works for you. You never know, maybe you’ll discover that mornings are your new prime time.

So get ready for a successful semester ahead by planning the right schedule for you!