Should You Take Morning or Afternoon Classes in College?

What Kind of Course Schedule Will Work Best?

Student asleep in class
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Unlike your years in high school, you have much more liberty in college to choose what time you want to take your classes. All that freedom, however, can make students wonder: Just what is the best time to be in class? Should I take morning classes, afternoon classes, or a combination of both?

When planning out your course schedule, consider the following factors.

  1. What time are you naturally the most alert? Some students do their best thinking in the morning; others are night owls. Think about when your brain is functioning at its highest capacity and plan your schedule around that time frame. If, for example, you can never get yourself mentally moving early in the morning, then 8:00 a.m. classes aren't for you.
  2. What other time-based obligations do you have? If you're an athlete with early practices or are in ROTC and have morning trainings, taking morning classes might not be a good fit. If, however, you need to work in the afternoons, a morning schedule might be perfect. Think about what else you need to get done during your average day. A 7:00-10:00 evening class every Thursday might sound like a nightmare at first, but if it opens up your days to other tasks you need to get done, it might, in fact, be at the perfect time.
  3. What professors do you really want to take? If you'd prefer to take morning classes but your favorite professor is only teaching a course in the afternoon, you have an important choice to make. It might be worth the schedule inconvenience if the class is engaging, interesting, and taught by someone whose teaching style you love. In contrast, however, if you know you have problems getting to an 8:00 a.m. class reliably and on time, then that won't be a good fit -- great professor or not.
  1. When are due dates likely to happen? Scheduling all of your classes only on Tuesdays and Thursdays sounds awesome until you have assignments, reading, and lab report all due on the same day each and every week. Similarly, you'll have four classes worth of homework to do between Tuesday afternoon and Thursday morning. That's a lot. While it's important to consider the morning/afternoon choice, it's also important to think about the overall look and feel of your week. You don't want to plan to have several days off only to end up sabotaging your goal because you end up having too many things due on the same day.
  2. Do you need to work during certain times of the day? If you have a job, you'll need to factor that obligation into your schedule, too. You might love working at the campus coffee shop because it's open late and you take your classes during the day. While that works, your job in the campus career center might not provide the same flexibility. Think carefully about the job you have (or the job you hope to have) and how their available hours can either complement or conflict with your course schedule. If you're working on campus, your employer might be more flexible than a non-campus employer. Regardless, you'll need to consider how to balance your financial, academic, and personal obligations by creating a schedule that works best for your particular situation.