Navigating course planning

You’re lucky enough to go to a huge school with a wide selection of courses from History of Drugs in Canada (HIST 420) and Sex, Lies and Violence in the Hebrew Bible (AMNE 341) to Microbes and Society (BIOL 346). When you factor in degree planning and prerequisites, it can be overwhelming! Here are some things to consider while choosing your courses.

Planning ahead

You don’t need to have it all figured out yet, but it helps to do some planning ahead for what courses you need for your degree.

Spend some time on the Degree Navigator and the Student Service Centre to figure out what courses you need to graduate and what pre- requisites you might need for your major(s). Get those 100-level courses out of the way in a couple fields that you’re interested in to give you a strong foundation later on.

If you’re a spreadsheet person, make a spreadsheet. If you’re not, find a system that works for you.

You can also visit academic advising for help! Try and do that early for in-depth advice, because in the period after course registration opens and in the first weeks of the term, they get swamped.

Your schedule

Make sure the classes you choose fit around the rest of your life. Do you work weekday afternoons? That rules out 3 p.m. classes. You’re a chronic night owl? Don’t kid yourself — drop that 8 a.m. statistics course. And if you’re a commuter student, make sure you factor in bus/car/bike time into your plans.

Also, check the syllabi of your classes against each other. Do they all have major deadlines in the same week, which happens to be the same week that your cousin is getting married, you have tickets for your favourite band and you have a busy schedule at work? If possible, switch some classes to spread those deadlines out — your future self will thank you.

The professors

Professors play a big role in a class learning experience. Do some research on the instructor. Does their research interest you? Do they teach in a way that aligns with your learning style and access needs?

See if you can find some old syllabi online. Ask around if you have friends that have had them before, or look at (with a grain of salt — bitter anonymous former students can be excessively mean).

Have fun?

Don’t be afraid to shop around a little. Try out some weird classes that seem outside of your comfort zone or area of interest — as long as they fit into your degree plan (either as electives or requirements). You can always drop them before the add/drop date for a full refund. You might find a new passion, or at least learn some new fun facts!