Author: Sean Qi
Course selection is quickly approaching and the formidable task of creating a timetable is something that might be on your mind. In order to achieve balance between academics, work, extracurriculars and your social life, effectively managing your time is critical. As such, streamlining your daily schedule with a well-designed timetable will allow you to handle multiple commitments without stress. So follow along with these seven tips, and you can create a strong timetable that will help you make the most of your university experience.
1. Plan well in advance:
I highly recommend that you start making worklists at least two weeks before your designated registration date. By constructing your schedule in advance, you have plenty of time to explore your options and revise your timetable by moving courses around.
2. Do your research:
The time that a class begins and ends only tells one half of the story. A large variation exists between individual sections of a particular course because the format, assessment criteria and difficulty of each section is determined by the professor teaching the class. For example, taking ECON 101 with Gateman is very different from taking the same class with another professor. Because the professor of each section is announced well before registration begins, doing plenty of research during the course selection process will help you enroll in classes with the best profs. Ask upper-year students for course outlines and advice to determine if a particular prof is right for you.
3. Avoid early classes:
This tip is basically self-explanatory. Never have a class before 10, even if you live on campus. For commuter students, consider the time it takes for you to get to UBC when registering for morning classes.
4. Avoid late classes:
A good timetable has classes that end at 3, or 4 at the latest. Ending classes early allows you to go home earlier, giving you a head start on any assignments that are due. For group projects, meetings can also be scheduled late afternoon as opposed to early evening, which is helpful. However, in my opinion, the most compelling reason for ending classes early is that workshops and events organized by Sauder clubs can start as early as 5. Having a class late in the afternoon often conflicts with these events, preventing you from attending. For example, I was unable to attend 6+ events this year because my COMM 101 lecture began at 5 and ended at 6:30.
On that note, many elective courses have tutorials that only start at 4 or 5. If possible, try to schedule your tutorial on Friday. Because it is right before the weekend, it is unlikely that the tutorial will conflict with any events.
5. Stack classes:
Apart from having a lunch break, a one hour gap between classes equals one hour of wasted time. It is very difficult to get a substantial amount of work done in such a short period of time, so try to eliminate these gaps entirely by stacking courses back to back.
If done correctly, you can occasionally fit four courses in a single day, maybe even five. However, the latter is not recommended. Even though you are likely to get days off, this comes at the expense of having an inflexible schedule that will leave you exhausted by the end of the day. It is much easier and less stressful to have a balanced distribution of classes (3 on M/W and 2 on T/Th OR 4 on M/W and 1 on T/Th) throughout the week.
6. Balance assignments with exams:
An assignment-oriented course is like ENGL 112 or COMM 292 – exams are deemphasized in favor of projects, group assignments and papers that are worth a considerable portion of your overall grade. The opposite of an assignment-oriented course is an exam-oriented course like COMM 291 or COMM 298, where a large portion of your grade is determined through midterms and finals. If you are unsure if a course is exam or assignment oriented, ask your upper year friends.
Because assignment-oriented courses are usually time consuming with group work and more intricate assignments, taking too many of them at once can diminish study time for other courses. In my opinion, to ensure that you can give each course the desired amount of attention, take at most two assignment-oriented courses per semester.
7. Have a plan B:
“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Course registration may not go smoothly, even if you have a good registration time. This is especially pertinent for students going into second year, who have the latest registration time for Sauder students. Some courses that you were interested in taking could be full, which is why you need to make multiple worklists to prepare for every contingency. Focusing all your efforts on one worklist is a recipe for disaster, as one minor complication can force you to reorganize your entire timetable at the worst possible time – when everyone else is registering for courses.