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How to Balance Your Class Schedule

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Balance, it’s something that we often seek in many aspects of our lives; whether we seek it in family tasks, school work, or our jobs, we often find that we are striving to find some aspect of balance in our lives.  Balancing course registrations can be a difficult task to accomplish; however, I have included a few tips to consider in regards to balancing your course registrations.

[related: Tips for Online Learning Success]

Tip #1: Try not to pair two writing intensive courses together; this will likely cause you to devote more time to school work than other obligations.  Writing intensive courses are courses that have heavier writing than other courses; typically, a writing intensive course is defined as having a research paper and heavy research projects throughout the course in addition to regular course work (reading, discussion forums, replies to peers, etc.).

Tip #2: Unless you are seeking a career as a detective, try not to pair two analytical courses together.  Analytical courses have a focus on the logical and systematic approach to learning; analytical courses often have complex problems/situations that need to be addressed by a student which requires some investigative thinking on the student’s behalf.  

Tip #3: Consider the readings that you will have in the course from the text books and additional readings assigned by the instructor, additionally, you need to also consider the assignments each week that will be assigned including quizzes, research proposals, exams, and discussion board forums. 

I encourage you to try some of these combinations:

  • Math and English
  • History and Science
  • Literature and Math
  • Social Science and History

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you to divide your time in your courses each week.  Now that you know which courses to pair together, let’s look at how to break down your schedule when you attend an online university.  Typically, if you’ve ever attended an online university before, you’ve noticed that you have a decent amount of freedom in regards to submitting your assignments.  You mean, you can turn the assignment in on Sunday at 11:54 p.m.?  You sure can; however, you are encouraged to review your assignments on a weekly basis so that you’re not staying up until 11:59 p.m. each Sunday on your third cup of coffee attempting to submit all assignments for your different courses. 

If you have assignments that are due at the same time each week, you could possibly focus your attention on two courses during Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the other two courses during Tuesdays and Thursdays (for a longer period of time since it’s only two days a week).  This aligns with the traditional college schedule; you can ensure that your work is done on certain nights of the week.  Weekends can be devoted to catching up on assignments or even reading ahead for the next week!  Another alternative would be to set deadlines for yourself.  While your instructor may not provide specific deadlines, setting deadlines for yourself will allow you to see a “due date” despite the fact that there is really no due date. 

All in all, balance is fundamental to doing well in an online environment.  While you may have more freedom in an online course, remember that you need to ensure that your courses are paired well so that you don’t burn out too quickly, and you want to ensure that you have a schedule in place for your assignments so that you can remain organized throughout the semester!  I wish you luck!

By Melanie Dougherty
Academic Success Advisor at American Public University

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