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Creating your freshman year class schedule is an important task. For starters, you want your first semester to be awesome. But more importantly, you want to put yourself on the right academic path so you can graduate in four years or less. Freshman year is all about getting started on your introductory courses, getting used to a schedule that's completely different than the one you had in high school, and easing into the college experience.

Here are some factors to consider when creating your first semester course schedule.

Find your sweet spot.

Taking the minimum amount of credits to achieve full-time student status (usually 12) may not be right for you, however, loading up on more than you can handle in your first year — say 18 credits — may not be the best idea either. The sweet spot for staying on track without feeling overwhelmed is typically 15 credits, or five courses per semester. The rule of thumb is that for every hour you're in class, you can expect to work/study for about two hours on your own. With 15 credit hours, that means you'll be working on your academics for at least 45 hours per week.

Think beyond the classroom.

Be careful about stacking too many heavy reading or writing courses or more than one class with a lab requirement into one semester. Give some thought to the types of assignments and additional work that each course might have beyond class times, and try to vary it so you don't feel overworked and burnt out.

Plan your week wisely.

Try to give yourself big blocks of time for studying and downtime. Having three or more classes back to back can be tough. If you're a commuter student, you may have different considerations like trying to avoid rush hour travel. Keep in mind that your choices might be limited as a freshman, so be prepared to roll with it if you do end up getting a week full of 8 a.m. classes.

Do some sleuthing.

Spend time with the school's course catalog (usually available online) and read class descriptions to find ones that pique your interest. You may also be able to find out who the professor is so you can do some online research about him or her. If you know any upperclassmen, find out which courses and professors they loved as freshmen. Remember that people's opinions may differ from your own, so while it does help to have real student perspectives, keep an open mind.


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