Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
Okay, so it’s about time to make our schedules and pick out classes for next semester. As we move closer and closer to the spring here is a list of things to keep in mind while picking classes:
Is the work load realistic? It’s awesome you want to take 20 credit hours! Is it really that realistic to successfully complete 20 credit hours though? Be honest with yourself and only take what you can handle. Your financial aid, degree, and future job depend on you doing well so don’t set yourself up for a disaster.
What classes do you need? If you know you can only successfully complete 15 credit hours which classes are really important and get you closer to your goal, graduation? I know your best friend is in that class and you really want to be with her, but maybe that’s not the best option for you. And make sure you stay on track. Are you going to graduate on time? It can cost a lot of money if not. Make sure you are taking care of what you need to first.
What time is class? Some of us are morning people, and some of us are definitely not. No one knows you better than… you! Keep in mind part of your financial aid is contingent on participation, which for some that means attending class. If you know you’re going to sleep through a 7:30am class, perhaps there is a better option during a later time. You just might be able to substitute the 7:30am class for another credit altogether. Check with your advisor for any class switches you could make.
When is lunch? When some of us make a schedule, we pack it as tightly as we can, to be done with the day as soon as we can. Others purposely leave room for a lunch. So look at what works best for you. If you have time for a lunch, packing a lunch is always cheaper. If you don’t have time for a lunch, maybe you don’t need such a large meal plan, see about switching it out for what works best for you and your needs.
How are you getting to class? Are you taking the bus? Make sure you check out the bus schedule to see when it starts, stops, if it is on-time, and plan accordingly. Difficult to tell when a bus is on time, there is an app for that. If you’re driving, are you sharing that car? Make sure you work it out with all the necessary parties.
Do you have scholarships? What are the GPA requirements for those? Most Purdue scholarships check your grades in the spring, and only in the spring. If you know you’re not where you need to be, consider taking some GPA booster classes or cutting your work load to get your GPA were it needs to be. Also don’t stop now! If you have a good GPA keep up the good work and don’t lose momentum.
What other financial aid do you have? State and federal aid have minimum credit hour requirements to receive those funds. Make sure you continue to meet those credit hour minimums. You can always see the requirements needed for all types of aid by going to your MyPurdue, look under the financial tab. On the left hand side there is a link that says “Award for Aid Year”. After you click the link you will want to select the 2013-2014 school year. On the award overview tab, all of your aid will be listed with links to the award requirements.
Is your enrollment changing? Typically, financial aid is based on the assumption you will be 12 credit hours or more. If you’re not, let the financial aid office know, before classes start! Re-awarding financial aid is a manual process. Letting the Financial Aid Office know about your schedule changes in advance will save you from headaches.
What are the additional costs? Some courses come with special course fees, like chemistry labs. Can you handle that other cost? All books are not created equal. Keep in mind some textbooks will always cost more. So make sure you consider if the additional financial costs outside of the tuition will be covered. And plan ahead. Often times there are cheaper options for buying books.
Do you have a job? Most employers, especially the ones on campus, are good about working around your class schedule. They are here at Purdue and realize you are a student. That being said, they need to know your schedule. Make sure you give them your schedule and do so well in advance. The early bird gets the worm and the sooner they have your schedule, the sooner they can work around it and give you the hours you need.
What steps do you take to prepare for a new semester?