How To Plan Your College Classes For Success
“You can’t build a great building on a weak foundation.
You must have a solid foundation if you’re going to have a strong superstructure.”
As we’re preparing for a new semester, are you getting organized for your college classes? In this post, we walk you through a simple process of creating a Course-At-A-Glance Sheet. Getting familiar with fundamentals of a course early on will help you to improve your time management skills and, most importantly, reduce your stress level when the first days of the semester arrive.
Currently, we’re running a Beginning-of-Semester sale in our Etsy shop. You get 30% off on our new Class Planning Kits and Semester Planning Kits. Course-At-A-Glance Sheet is one of 13 unique planner sheets in the Class Planning Kit. It’s also included in a larger 17-page Semester Planning Kit. All college student planners are editable and available in two attractive designs. There is no waiting, as you receive an instant pdf download when your order.
Indeed, college life gets very busy quickly. As the above quote rightly says,'You can't build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you're going to have a strong superstructure.'Click To Tweet
To build a strong foundation for success, let’s go over each class you are registered for and collect important information using the check list below.
Why Creating Course-At-A-Glance Sheet?
During the first week of classes, you’re going to receive course syllabi. These are usually lengthy documents that contain all important information pertaining to the course. Going over many pages in a syllabus to find frequently used information can be very time consuming.
Therefore, keeping a brief summary of key info for each class is very helpful for several reasons:
- It gives you a big picture of what your college courses are about;
- It highlights everything you need to know in one place;
- It saves you time when you need to find this frequently used information later.
When you create such information sheet for each of your college courses, put them in your class folders and keep them handy.
1. Course Name
For example: Money and Banking (ECO 3070)
2. Instructor Info
– Instructor’s name and how he or she prefers to be addressed.
Example: Dr. Tanya Ince (Tanya)
– Instructor’s email address and phone number (if applicable).
Example: molodtsovat (at) appstate.edu
This information is typically shared on the first day of classes. Class syllabi usually mention it too. Establishing friendly communication with an instructor can enhance your overall experience in the class.
Many students introduce themselves to their professors after the first class or over email. Even though it’s not required, it helps your instructor remember you and you begin building your relationship early in the class.
Don’t hesitate to approach your professors if you have any questions or concerns. They are there to answer your questions and to improve your learning experience. Most instructors welcome and encourage your questions as they indicate your interest in succeeding in their class.
3. Lecture Times and Office Hours
– Time and location of the class.
Example: MWF 3:30-4:45 pm Peacock Hall 3013
– Time and location for regular office hours.
Example: F 1:00-3:00 pm 213 Howard Street Hall
If there are any lab sessions in your, put them here as well. You can also add all your class times to your Google Calendar. Here is a video we created on how to import activities into Google Calendar from Excel.
Finally, I cannot overemphasize the importance of going to office hours. It can save you so much time and energy. If you ask questions before an assignment is due or before the date of an exam comes, you’ll get the most out of the material and your grades will reflect your extra effort.
Professors remember students who make extra effort to show up during office hours. Usually, they genuinely want to help you to succeed in class.
It takes a little planning to start on your assignments and exam preps ahead of time. However, it will all be worth it when the time of comes to take a test and you feel so much more prepared.
4. Grade Weights
What percentage of your overall course grade will be based on midterm exams, final exams, assignments, pop-up quizzes, in-class presentations, group or individual projects, and other categories.
Class Participation 15%
Pop-Up Quizzes 5% (BONUS)
Are any assignments or exams with the lower scores going to be dropped from the final grade? Are there any bonus points? If you are familiar with grading policies from the start of the semester, you will be able to leverage your time better and take advantage of every opportunity to increase your grade and understanding of the material.
5. Other Must-Knows
– Is there a required textbook for the class? Is the textbook available for rent at the bookstore? Or do you need (or want) to buy it instead? If this course is directly related to your major or concentration you might want to own the textbook for future reference.
Renting textbooks or buying used ones can save you a substantial amount each semester. The College Board estimates that an average college student spends anywhere from $1070 to $1760 on books and supplies. Here is our article on how to save money on college textbooks using apps.
– Are there any required subscription services, such as MyLab?
– Are there any recommended textbooks? Can you borrow them from the library? Do you want to buy a used copy?
– Does the instructor require or recommend any website, blogs, or magazines to follow in addition to the required textbook?
– Does the course require the use of a specific software? Where can you access it on campus?
If a class syllabus lists specific dates for each assignment, including exams, projects, and presentations, record them on the same sheet. As the semester progresses, you may need to use your planning superpowers more than once. Remember, life happens. Your parents or friends may come for an unexpected visit. You may need to take a day off to care of your health, your pet, your car, or all of the above. You’re going to thank yourself later for taking 30 minutes to organize this information.
Finally, some instructors provide a tentative course outline or course calendar with topics, textbook chapters, and activities that are planned for each day of classes. I would recommend keeping course outline, course syllabus, and summary sheet together. Collectively, they serve as a road map for your college class.
If you are taking online classes this semester, initial preparation and time management are even more important.
Bonus Planning Tips
- Get together with your roommate or friend for a semester planning party. Motivate each other and have some fun! You can celebrate by going to the movies together later.
- While you are at it, you can add class times and important dates for each course to Google Calendar or My Study Life app. Here is our review of My Study Life app with step-by-step instructions on how to start using it on your smartphone or desktop.
- As you are on a semester planning spree, take a look at this article on how to set semester goals.
- Take advantage of the Beginning-of-Semester Sale on our Etsy shop. We highly recommend our fully editable Semester Planning Kits and Class Planning Kits. Choose from two attractive designs and get everything you need to stay on top of your schoolwork throughout this semester.
Wishing you all an exciting and productive Fall semester!