Visual Schedule Builder: Breaking it Down

Posted by Breanna Marcelo on June 7, 2017

Academic Success | Student Life

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You might still be adding summer courses to your schedule, and you’re likely to be getting ready to enroll in your fall courses. Figuring out your course schedule for the upcoming school year just got easier! Before I reveal all the details . . .

A little flashback:

Just more than a year ago, I was an incoming student with little to no understanding of York’s online course enrollment process. The words “catalogue number” and “BLEN” (i.e. online and in-class learning blended) meant absolutely nothing to me. Imagine my panic when I found out that I had less than three days to create my course schedule, with no clue as to what I was doing! Fortunately, I had some amazing friends and a large amount of upper-year support to guide me throughout this process. Five hours and one breakdown later, I had a schedule that I was content with. Despite finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – and being able to take Mondays off – I couldn’t help but think how this journey could have been made easier for me and the rest of the York U community (especially for the incoming first years)!

Fast-forward to the present:

Luckily, that’s exactly what happened! As a result of feedback provided during the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), York U listened to students and launched the Visual Schedule Builder or VSB.

What is the VSB?

The Visual Schedule Builder (VSB) is an interactive tool that can help you organize your academic schedule. The VSB allows you to choose desired courses, graphically view schedule options and ultimately create a timetable that works for you. Based on personal timing preferences and other commitments (at university or beyond), the VSB allows you to visually map out your lectures, tutorials and other activities into a conflict-free weekly schedule.

Screenshot of Visual Schedule Builder
An overview of the Visual Schedule Builder (VSB)

Where can I find the VSB?

You can find the VSB on its own York website.

How does the VSB work?

Check out this in-depth video about VSB and its functionality!

Note: As of now, the VSB works only on desktops and laptops. The mobile version will be released soon.

Important things to note:

The VSB does not enrol you in your courses; it simply helps you create a schedule and provides you with catalogue numbers to be inputted on the website.

After organizing your schedule on the VSB, you can then input your courses through the Registration and Enrollment Module (REM).

The VSB does not automatically save your schedule; once you are finished, you have to save the website URL to review your proposed schedule in the future.

The VSB does not replace academic advising or degree audit, nor does it provide your course prerequisites, financial blocks or enrolment blocks.

Passport York has a time out after 90 minutes.

When should I use the VSB?

The VSB can be used any time, but I recommend that you take a look and create a schedule a few days before you plan to enrol. This is to ensure that you can enrol in your courses right away and find a spot!

Why should I use the VSB?

Using the VSB is by no means mandatory, but in my opinion it’s a hassle-free and quick way to make schedules for the year ahead. Once your course codes are inputted, the VSB automatically populates the empty schedule with timing options. With just the click of a button you can maneuver your courses around until you are satisfied with the outcome.

Personally, I might be a little biased toward the VSB because I have already used the tool two different times to make schedules; it took me only 10 to 15 minutes to construct a schedule I was happy with. But to give you all an unbiased perspective on the VSB and its effectiveness, I enlisted York U undergraduate student Hafsa to participate in the Ultimate Paper vs. VSB test.

The Rules of the Game:

The Ultimate Paper vs. VSB game is simple. It is split into two parts, with paper representing traditional schedule making without the VSB and VSB representing schedule making with the VSB. Hafsa, who has never utilized the VSB process, will be given two different lists of a full course load at York U (five courses at 6.0 credits each).

The first set will need to be constructed into a schedule using simply the York U courses website, paper and pen.

The second set will need to be constructed into a schedule using VSB.

Since Hafsa already has one year of experience with the paper method, to even the playing field, I will be giving Hafsa a one-minute tutorial on how to use the VSB. Hafsa will be timed during both sets, and at the end of the game, we will compare the timings, the efficiency of both methods and Hafsa’s personal experience.

Pictures of the game setup

Introducing Hafsa Akhlaq:

Before Hafsa is put to the ultimate test, let’s learn a bit more about her. I asked Hafsa five rapid-fire questions and her experience with course enrolment as an incoming first-year. Take a look at her answers!


 Hafsa, a third-year BBA student at the Schulich School of Business

Program & year: Schulich BBA, starting third year.

Favourite book: One book that I find myself reading again and again is Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

Best place at YorkU and why: The road between Tim Hortons and Tait Mackenzie — where you get your YU-Card made!

What were you doing three hours ago? Statistics.

If you could be one food, what would it be and why? It would be flan; the yellow custard with little caramel on top. I would want to be it because it’s a comfort food that anyone can eat, and its really good cold and hot.

What was your experience with enrolling in courses as an incoming first-year?

I found it to be very tedious and very confusing; especially because there were a lot of things to get done with little to no guidance. I remember being really overwhelmed when we got accepted, because course enrolment came out of nowhere; there were so many links and abbreviations! Plus I made my schedule like 40 different times and still wasn’t satisfied with it. It was a mess. The only reason I didn’t struggle as much as some people in a different program is because the students in my program compiled a list of all required courses with timings, and that just made the experience much easier.

What advice would you give to incoming first-year students who don’t know how to make their schedules?

I would tell them that they definitely need to look at what their plans are for the year. Think about how much you are commuting (if you’re going to be), because that plays a big role in how satisfied you will be with your schedule afterward. You have to think, how late/early do I want my classes and do I want to come to York five days a week? Personally, I had Thursdays and Fridays off during the week and that really helped me keep my schoolwork to those two days and keep the weekend for time with family and friends.

Hafsa completing the “Paper Test”

Time: Approximately 6 minutes and 37 seconds

Pictures of Hafsa completing the “Paper Test”

Hafsa completing the “VSB Test”

Time: Approximately 1 minute and 48 seconds

Note: Times during this experiment may not reflect your personal times. Timings are based on creating a schedule for five courses without tutorials and labs for a quick simulation.

Pictures of Hafsa completing the “VSB Test”

Hafsa’s Experience:

What method did you prefer and why?

I definitely preferred the VSB, just because it was very fast and easy. The problem with making your schedule manually is that you have to go to the York U courses website, find your course heading and then find your course under those headings. Then you need to get the category numbers and plot out your timeline. It was just much easier to use the VSB, because as soon as you write in the name of your course, it pops up, and the whole process is very clean and efficient.

If you could make one improvement to VSB, what would it be?

[I know it doesn’t have that functionality right now, but] I wish it would enroll me in courses automatically, because that’s just an extra step you need to do. You spend your time with the VSB making your schedule and then have to input catalogue numbers into the York U website to enroll. If that’s not possible, having a pop-up that directs you to the link to enroll would make it much more of a seamless process.

A Note to First-Year Students:

Although the VSB is accessible to you, as incoming students you need to closely monitor your program requirements. Most of you will do so by completing the enrollment tutorial on YUSTART, a great tool for easing the transition between high school and York University. Additionally, you can always refer to your Facultyacademic advising and the Degree Progress Report.

Note: if you are unsure of timetable abbreviations (much like I was in first year), this page is for you!

Final Words:

I hope that this post has helped you understand what the Visual Schedule Builder (VSB) is and why it is useful. I would like to thank Hafsa for taking the time out of her day and sharing her experience and bubbly personality with us! Make sure to tune in next week for our next article!

If you have any questions about how to use the VSB or would simply like to share your experience, feel free to tweet @YorkUStudents with the #YUBLOG.


Note: This post is an updated version of a post originally published by Garima on June 16, 2016.

Breanna Marcelo
Breanna Marcelo

What's up YU Blog! It's your girl Breanna! I am a third-year student majoring in Communication Studies and English. Just a few things about me: I'm a city girl who enjoys Netflix TV shows (a little too much), travelling to new places, listening to hip hop, eating brunch, being a fashionista and petting dogs. Overall, I hope my articles inspire you and educate you!

See other posts by Breanna Marcelo

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