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College & Career Training in Alaska

Before you can attend any classes, you have to schedule them.  Here are some tips to maximizing your time at school.

Requirements

As you have probably read in the ACPE Blog 6 People to Know on Campus , your academic advisor is the first person you should know on campus.  Your academic advisor can help you create your plan for your education and training by focusing on your goals.  Your advisor can help you choose your program of study and schedule your classes while keeping program and course requirements in mind.  It’s human nature to try to steer away from courses we aren’t fond of, but the advisor will remind you that the best chance for success is to take that science class and the supporting math class at the same time.  The advisor also knows which elective courses are more practical for your major – this will keep you on track and help you graduate in a timely manner.  Your academic advisor knows what the pre-requisites are to each of the courses to help you be successful.  Make an appointment today to meet with your advisor!

Time

Time, is there ever enough of it?  As my dad has always told me, “if you don’t plan your time, someone else will plan it for you.”   Where you focus your time shows what is important to you. You can maximize the use of your time by considering these factors to create your perfect school schedule:

  • Energy level – Are you an early riser or a night owl? What time of day are you most productive and attentive?  Your peak energy time would be an optimal time for class.  Be careful though.  Those early, early morning classes could mean even earlier finals times.  Take it from me:  I did it my freshman year.  That 7:40 am history class had a 6:40 am final exam time.  OUCH!  And after a week of nightmares about missing the final, I woke up late and had to run all the way to class.  Didn’t miss the final, but the professor was not happy about my tardiness. Still – finals are one day only, and you want to pick a schedule that works for you all semester long.
  • Study time – You won’t be spending as much time in the classroom as you did in high school. That doesn’t mean there is less work to do.  It means you have to prepare more outside of class. A good rule of thumb is to plan 2-3 hours of study time for each hour you spend in class.  That means for a 3-credit-hour course you should also plan 6-9 hours of study time. Having a couple of research-heavy courses at the same time can be even more time consuming.   Remember: you need prep and study time for more than just one course. 
  • Work schedules – You won’t be the only one who is working while going to school. Most campus work-study programs keep students to a 20-hour max workweek.  A couple of nice things about work-study programs are the limitations to prevent you from working during class/finals time and relatively little commute time is needed.  Alaska schools have the highest rate per capita of any other state schools for students who work 30 or more hours per week (off-campus). If you’re doing that, make sure your work supervisor is supportive of your goals and needs – your education should be a priority! Work schedules and commuting time need to be planned in your schedule, too.  Will you be able to work all of your hours on the weekends or do you need to spread them out over the week?
  • Course load – Is your program of study intense?  Does your program of study have a prescribed order for completing the coursework successfully?  Nursing and Engineering are examples of both intense course loads and prescribed orders for successful completion.  Other programs like Business have a bit more flexibility and directions.  One course doesn’t necessarily build on another.  Your academic advisor can help you know how to best schedule your courses for either type of program.

Money

Consider your financial aid package when you start creating your class schedule.  Scholarships and loan agreements have minimum and on occasion even maximum numbers of credit hours.  These requirements are generally by the semester or year.  This means you need to be aware of how your school records credit hours.  Is the school using the semester hour (Fall, Spring) or quarter hour system?  Courses in the quarter hour system are typically completed within 10-11 weeks or so.  Education loans generally require you to be at least a half-time student.  Scholarships have varied requirements – some require at least part-time, others are for full-time students.  Be aware of the requirements for each of your financial aid awards.  Not meeting the minimum number of credit hours could mean no payout of financial aid.  You can keep track of them in the Application Tracker, at www.AKCIS.org under the Education tab.

Location

Just like in real estate, successful course planning takes into account Location, Location, Location.  Each course has multiple sections offered.  A section is the particular class with choices of instructor, day, time, and location. So, you’re looking at the best time of day, the best days, and an instructor who fits your learning style. 

However, can you actually get to the class in the allotted time?  If you are scheduling classes back to back, check to make sure you aren’t trying to get to other side of the campus in under 10 minutes. Will there be parking?  Is that the busy time of day to pick up a bite to eat?  If you are commuting, how long is the typical commute and what could traffic look like?  Do you need to take public transportation to get back and forth to classes?  There isn’t a 5-minute passing period any more, but scheduling in some time to hang out after class ends to meet others in your class, or to discuss a project, will add to your overall success, not only in that class, but in school.  Do you have time to get to the next class? 

While you are working with you academic advisor and considering requirements, time, money, and location, you can manage your academic plan using the AKCIS Course Planner.  By choosing the Undergraduate Study or Adult Education plans, you can keep track of the pre-requisites, credit hours, terms, and special notes for your program of study.

About the Author

Julia Renfro

Julia Renfro

AKCIS Partnership Coordinator

 

A military BRAT turned military spouse, Julia likes traveling and meeting new people. Using Personal Learning & Career Plans (PLCPs), she works with students and families to plan futures that will help them enjoy life and their communities.

 

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