5 Tips for Building the Perfect Schedule

Posted by Megan on May 13, 2014

Journey to the Centre of York

It won’t be long before it’s time to start choosing courses so today’s post is going to focus on building the ~~~PERFECT~~~ schedule*.

*Note: Or at least as close to perfect as is possible.

Below are some of my favourite tips:

#1 Before you pick courses spend at least an hour or more building a schedule with options.

Don’t make the mistake of rushing into picking courses without first building a schedule to see how it’s going to look. My preferred method is to duel screen with York courses on the left and an Excel spreadsheet on the right.

Also make sure you ALWAYS have backup CAT#’s (what you use to register in a course). Sometimes you will be lucky enough to have a couple courses offered at the same time while other times you might have to build a couple different schedules based on what’s available by the time you register. In fact, I recommend not building your schedule until relatively close to your enrolment point to save yourself from the disappointment and frustration. Set aside some time the night before, or at least a few hours before your window if possible.

This will also help make your registering quicker because you can just write all your Cat #’s on a sticky note and you should be registered within a couple minutes. Do this even if you are a new first year student! It will help so much 🙂

#2 Give yourself at LEAST one day off.

Some students prefer to give themselves a long weekend every week, however I do think it should be noted that this can be a potentially dangerous option. The real perk of having a day off is to use it on a day like Wednesday where you can tackle your workload from the first half of the week and prepare for the second half.

Don’t get me wrong, having a Monday or Friday off can be super useful (and relaxing) too, but I think it takes more self control to use those days as seriously as you would if it was a mid-week free day.

#3 Try to schedule your courses at times that work for you.

In some cases really early or really late classes are unavoidable. It just happens sometimes. However try to keep factors like your commute and personal energy levels into account when you build your schedule. For instance, I have seasonal depression in the winter which makes it EXTRA hard to get up early mornings. I try to ensure I don’t start before 11. I also get tired a lot easier so I try to not have courses that are too late either or I will burn out and have to head home without going to my last class.

For those that live on campus, you might actually want to have morning class because then you can get everything out of the way and have free afternoons and evenings. For commuters, I definitely recommend going with 11am and onwards because I know the commute to York can get quite tricky and you might not want to get up at 5-6 every morning for 8:30 classes. Then again, if that works for you, go for it. It’s just about knowing what’s best for you and pursuing that!

Some people also prefer to have no breaks between their classes while others do. I’ve personally found that small breaks only are the best for me. I try to have 30-60 minutes between classes so I have time to get from one to the other and eat a meal if needed. I also study at home though, so some people like to use 2-3 hour long breaks to study for the class they finished before they go to their next class.

#4 DO NOT overload your days – don’t even think about it.

Unless you absolutely HAVE to, I don’t recommend more than 4-6 hours of school in one day. Lectures especially can be really tiring to your mind and you will hit a point where you are sitting in your lecture like a zombie, trying to force yourself to engage with the material. Learning will be much easier if you are alert!

The second reason is because sometimes you will be lucky enough to have similar course types in one day which I personally find a lot more helpful than having two random ones. For example if you have two psych courses on one day and one math on another you will find it a lot easier to engage when you can focus on that one field.

For those that take transit you might want to consider staying a bit longer (closer to 4-6 hours) to make your commute worth it. I know some people have to commute for about 2 hours so it’s more worth your while to get more classes in one day so you don’t have to come on campus as often. For those that do have shorter classes on a day, you can always stay on campus and study, explore, or get in time with your college or any clubs you are involved in.

#5 Know when to be flexible.

It’s going to take a lot of good luck to get the perfect schedule. Sometimes you have to focus on other factors or what good there is in whatever schedule you end up with. For instance, maybe a course that you had to take instead of another has a really well known prof – you might find that you enjoy this new course more than the one you wanted in the first place!

Being flexible is also going to greatly reduce your enrolment stress and will leave you more satisfied with your schedule at the end. This is also why I suggest making a couple schedule builds in case one doesn’t work (you can avoid this by making your build closer to your enrolment window).

That being said there are also times when I think you shouldn’t be flexible – for example if you are a new Psych student and you can’t get into PSYC 1010, you need to sort that out so your degree progress is smooth. It should be as simple as contacting the Psychology department and letting them know and they can either make room or start a new section for students. I don’t think this happens often, but you should still be aware of scenarios such as this. You also have to be aware that in some situations you will either just have to take a different gen ed or elective or take the course in the following semester – either Winter or Summer. But in the end, it should all work out 🙂

Well this is it, my 5 tips for building the perfect schedule. Which did you find most helpful? I know I have to work harder at the last one.

Leave me some comments below 🙂



Megan is a third-year Psychology student. Follow her on her journey of self-development as she explores and ventures through campus.

See other posts by Megan

  • Megan

    Hello Given Makai,

    A good place to start is with the admission requirements which you can find below futurestudents.yorku.ca/requirements

    If you are an International student you might also want to reach out to York International yorkinternational.yorku.ca/contact-us/

    Good luck!

  • Avatar
    Given Makai

    Kindly help me apply in your school am in agent need.