The Art of Planning A Term

From what I can tell, most of my students “plan” their course schedule for a semester based solely on two criteria. First, what is being offered that they are willing to take that term, and second, when is it being offered? The second of these criteria often trumps the first because of the “it’s too early in the morning” factor. Now you see why I put the word “plan” in quotes.

I don’t fault them. At most public schools education about term planning usually takes the form of a little time management worksheet that breaks down a week into 186 hours and then budgets out time according to what the worksheet has deemed are your priorities. These sheets are always based on a fantasy world and not the real world.

In the real world, everyone multitasks. So these nice little blocks of time are meaningless. In the world of my students, most are working full time, or as close to that as they can get and are also trying to take 12-15 hours of classes a semester. If they have to drop something, that is the cost of doing business.

Private schools, especially liberal arts colleges, often do a much better job of planning a semester. It’s not uncommon at smaller colleges to meet with an academic advisor who is actually familiar with your goals and major and who will help you plan courses for the next semester. Planning the semester in this manner isn’t about budgeting time. It’s about crafting the next phase of your educational development. Remember, just because you don’t go to a school that thinks like this doesn’t mean you can’t.