How to build the perfect course schedule

It can be a daunting task, and there are many factors to consider, but this is what I've learned about making your schedule the best it can be.

Close up view of a calendar Photo:

Know yourself and when you’re the most productive

Personally, I work best in the morning, so I try to place most of my classes then and leave time for schoolwork in the afternoon. If you’re the opposite and find that you’re most attentive later in the day, schedule your classes then if possible. While you won’t have a time choice with some classes, university is generally quite flexible. Work it to your advantage and make your timetable more enjoyable.


Avoid big gaps and block your courses together

I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes a big push of motivation to start my day and get productive—especially in the winter months when the weather makes you want to stay in bed all day. I’ve found that when this happens, it helps when your classes are close together (around 10 minutes apart), so once you get going there isn’t time to stop. If you have a long lecture in the morning followed by a two-hour break before your next class, you’re likely not going to be very productive in those two hours and won’t be as motivated for your next class. Leave yourself time for a lunch break, but not too much more.


Mix up lectures, labs, and tutorials

Even though I highly recommend scheduling your classes one after the other, nobody wants to sit in lectures for five hours straight, no matter how interesting the subject may be. Try your best to mix up when you have lectures, and when you have more hands-on classes such as labs and tutorials. This will keep you more engaged in what you’re doing in class, and you’ll be less prone to daydreaming or glancing at your phone.


Pay attention to the location of your classes!

This may seem obvious, but make sure you have enough time to get from class to the other. Dal’s three Halifax campuses make up one huge campus. Trying to navigate the Life Sciences Centre and running to make it to your next class in the Rowe Management Building in 10 minutes might be doable but definitely not ideal. It’s also possible that you have a class at King’s or downtown on Sexton Campus, which are going to take even longer to run to.

Right now, take a second look at your schedule and make sure that you’ve given yourself enough time to get to your classes. And consider yourself lucky if you’re on the Truro Campus and don’t have quite as far to run between classes!


Talk to an academic advisor if you’re unsure what you should be taking

Depending on your program, it can be tricky making sure you’re meeting all of the class requirements and that you’re on the right track to graduating. If you’re unsure about this, or just want some clarification, the academic advisors at Dalhousie are great people to talk to. Check for advisors in your program/department/faculty or, depending on what you’re studying, you can reach out to the Bissett Student Success Centre in Halifax or the Student Success Centre in Truro.


Have a backup plan

Many courses fill up quickly so, to avoid panic during course registration, have some backup courses that you can register for instead. While you can get on a waitlist for most classes, having a backup elective or another course from your faculty that fits into your schedule is definitely a good idea in the event you can’t get into a certain class this year.