Building Your Best Schedule

Laptop open in front of opalescent tile wall. Partially finish bottle of soda on left.

Maybe it's the first time you're building a schedule after orientation. Maybe you're trying to close in on graduation requirements and progress to degree. You might even be thinking about electives as building blocks that you can use in graduate work. We can help you think through those and we know the people who can provide pathways and answers. Talk to us.

Here are some quick tips.

Pearl (Undergrad). Scheduling my classes each semester, I find Atlas as the most useful resource for finding the most suitable courses for myself. Atlas shows all the information and statistics from the past five academic years — median grade, workload, desire to take, and the clarity of each professor. Personally, I think this is beneficial as the data are very accurate; they are based on students’ feedback who had taken those classes in the past. As an architecture major at Taubman College, I tend to schedule advising sessions with my Taubman academic advisors twice a semester about my course selection and my progress overall.

Rocco (Undergrad). For the last couple of years here at the U-M, I have taken lots of Economics courses, as I plan to major in Econ. I will continue to do that, so that I can complete my major. Looking at my LSA audit checklist prepares me well for scheduling my courses in the future, too. According to my checklist, I still need to have a Race and Ethnicity course, an upper-level writing requirement, and some more credits in humanities and social sciences. When I schedule courses from now on, I will know to include classes that have to do with my major, and courses that are necessary for fulfillment credits. To ensure that I graduate on time, I find it important to schedule regular appointments with my advisor. Oftentimes, students try to do everything by themselves in terms of scheduling, but many find themselves unable to graduate on time. To avoid this, I‘ll continue to schedule appointments with my advisor.

Nancy (Undergrad). I am a planner, so when the course guide comes out, it is heavenly. From the moment it's available, I would start spending hours looking through all the classes offered and adding them to my schedule builder on Atlas. A few semesters ago, I created a spreadsheet with all the requirements I need to fulfill for my two majors and began color-coding my classes: green = completed, yellow = in progress, and white = interesting classes that count for the requirements I can take in future semesters. Using my spreadsheet, the course guide, and Atlas, I would build out different variations of schedules to better balance the workload of each course. For example, last semester, I built out six different schedules because I was so indecisive about all the classes offered this semester. There were so many I wanted to take but so little time! Building out each schedule and calculating the workload makes my schedule more tangible. I have so much fun doing so because of all the unique classes Michigan offers every semester. Moreover, during backpacking time, I have met with each of my major advisors to make sure I am on track to graduate on time. Utilize them as a resource during backpacking and enrollment periods because they're there to help you all!

Ronen (Undergrad). Each semester, when the LSA course guide drops, I always like to make sure I am aware of my necessary courses before I start backpacking. First I’ll meet with my Newnan General Advisor to do an audit checklist. Before I declared my major or minor, this step is not as necessary, but you still want to check to see what distribution requirements you have, as well as any other LSA requirements. In my freshman year, I aimed to fulfill as many of the distribution requirements (quantitative reasoning, natural science, social science, humanities, etc) as I can, along with my first year writing. This helps give me flexibility with my later coursework as I aim to complete both a major and a minor at U of M. After I complete my checklist and decide which requirements I am going to fulfil in the upcoming semester, I will begin filtering through the courses on the LSA course guide. One of the best tips for going through LSA courses is to look at the University of Michigan Atlas page that corresponds to the class you are looking to take. Atlas pulls together survey data from students to give information about the difficulty of the course, previous syllabi, which professors will teach and have taught it in the past, and so much more. This will give me a rough idea of what to expect out of the class. I will also occasionally look up the professor on rate-my-professor to see how previous students felt about the professor and course.

Maddie (Grad). When choosing my course load for the new semester, I start by checking my progress with the LSA Audit Checklist. This allows me to get a sense of which course requirements I still need to meet and what I should prioritize when looking through the UMSI course guide. I love using Atlas because it is available even before backpacking opens on Wolverine Access. I mostly use their schedule builder. It allows you to input as many courses as you’d like - even if times overlap. Having everything laid out in front of me makes it easier to select courses based on timing. You can view course descriptions and professor ratings as well which is super helpful.

Lorna (Grad). It’s that time of the year again where the course guide has come out, you are tasked with creating a schedule for next semester, and you are probably a little (or a lot!) overwhelmed by all the options. As a professional student in the College of Pharmacy, I now have the luxury of my schedule being created for me, but trust me, during my undergraduate years, I always found this task very daunting. My biggest fear was forgetting a class I needed for my degree and potentially having to take an extra semester to finish my schooling. Although, what I discovered about half way through my time at Umich, my best friend during this process, was the Audit Checklist function on Wolverine Access. The audit checklist shows you which classes you have already completed, how they count towards your degree, and the requirements you still need to meet in order to graduate. This function did wonders for planning out my future schedule and also showed me that all the work I had put in so far was really counting towards something.

If I had one piece of advice regarding using the audit checklist (or however you like to schedule), it would be to not only plan out the upcoming semester classes, but make a tentative plan for future semesters. Doing this really helped me stay organized and made sure I had a plan for taking those required courses at some point in my future years. This is important because not every class is offered each semester, so figuring out early which classes to take in the fall vs winter (vs spring/summer), will prevent you from scrambling to fit those courses at the last minute!

If you find you are still struggling to decide which classes you need to take, the advising office is always available and a great resource for you to utilize. Almost every semester, around this time, I scheduled a meeting with my advisor and found it very helpful to talk with him and make sure I was staying on track of all my requirements. This is their job, let them help you!

To find your audit checklist:

Wolverine Access → Students → Student Business → Student Center → My Academics (on left hand side) → View my Advisement Report (on left hand side) → Checklist Report PDF (Detail Report PDF is helpful too!)