Signing up for fall classes: A guide to building your best schedule

Useful tips on creating the perfect schedule for next semester


Adrienne Povey

Senior Academic Advisor Amy Grieger of the Political Science department smiles at her desk.

Adrienne Povey, Writer

Course selection looks different for everyone, but these tips should offer some insight on how to prepare for the best class schedule for next semester!


To start, it’s good to prepare for your advising appointment by going on Spire and figuring out the classes you need to take while thinking about what you want to take. Then, schedule an appointment with your primary advisor and the advisors of your secondary major, minor, or certificate. Advisors get very busy with appointments during course scheduling, so it’s important to do this sooner rather than later. Then, you’ll have time to plan out your schedule and ensure you are on the right path.


“I think it’s always a good idea to have extra courses in your shopping cart so that if you go to enroll and things are full, you have some choices right there,” said Senior Academic Advisor Amy Grieger of the Political Science department. She also mentioned the importance of “clicking through on details for your enrollment appointment to make sure you know the time in addition to the day.” 


Generally, students can’t control the timing of scheduled classes, but labs or discussion classes may offer more variation in time. Some people prefer classes back-to-back, while others like to have study breaks in between. Use the schedule builder feature on Spire to plan out what different schedules might look like for you next year. Back-to-back classes, especially in the same building, can be nice because there is less travel time allowing you to finish your day faster. Some people like having breaks in between classes to eat, study or relax, so do what works best for you.


Also, give yourself time to eat! Sitting through a lecture while starving is a terrible experience and makes it even harder to focus. Some people like to eat breakfast while others like to wake up and eat after their first class. So again, do what works best for you, but consider mealtimes around your schedule. 


Ask other people in your major what classes they enjoyed and what classes they didn’t like. This may sound like a no-brainer, but this can be extremely useful, preventing you from taking a class that wasn’t what you expected. Get insight from people in classes or clubs related to your major, which can also help you to meet new people. Students often rely on Rate My Professors to get an idea of a professor’s workload or teaching style, but asking students you know about their personal experiences with a professor may offer more information. 


Each semester, there may be classes that you find to be more interesting than other classes. To stay motivated throughout your college career, it’s a good idea to take one or two classes each semester that you feel very interested in, making the workload hurt a little less. Some majors might not have this wiggle room, but if you can, maybe avoid taking a whole semester of classes that you dread.


Try to find a syllabus. It’s frustrating that syllabi aren’t released with the class courses so students don’t exactly know what they are getting themselves into when preparing for the next semester. Sometimes this is because the syllabus isn’t finished yet, but if you know someone who has taken the course you can always ask them to send it to you. You could also email the professor and ask for a syllabus, or an unrevised version of it, just to get an idea of what the class will be like. Professors might also post the class syllabus on their website, so you may be able to find it there too. After you create your schedule in Spire’s schedule builder, you can click on the white “i” in the blue circle for a brief description of the class as well. 


Remember that the add/drop period exists. If you are unsure about a class you signed up for, and you realize during the first week that it’s not a good fit, then you can probably swap the course. Also, be sure to consider your college life as a whole. Make time for the clubs, internships or jobs you want to participate in. Consider where you’ll live in relation to class buildings, along with the changes that may impact your usual schedule.


There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing your classes, but hopefully, you’ve picked up on the routines you enjoy from this semester, so you can plan more easily for the fall. 


If you are still uncertain about what classes you should enroll in, be sure to talk to an advisor. “Don’t be shy about asking questions,” said Grieger.

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