A guide to doing your uni timetable right

February 17, 2016
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It may come as a surprise to new students that one of the most competitive part of uni happens before the semester even begins. Only the fast survive enrolment, and it's not for the unprepared. Time is money, seats are limited, and deserving students often miss out on getting into their desired subjects. If you want to avoid 7pm seminars or spending all your time on public transport getting to campus, then read closely.

Game day

The first thing to do is make sure you’ve completed your pre-enrolment checklist (stuff like HECS, address, emergency contacts, and so on) well in advance, as some can take up to 10 minutes to complete. Plus, the system won't let you enrol until it's done.

A good five to 10 minutes before the officially listed opening time is a good time to start spamming the 'refresh' button - even the most prestigious universities are likely to start a few minutes early or late. Maybe it's because the clocks aren't synchronised, or maybe it's because they have to do a roll out of all subjects. Either way, it's better to be safe than sorry.

How to get what you need

Some subjects will fill up faster than others, and missing out on some subjects or times can not only screw up your social life, but your whole degree. Subject codes are the fastest way to find subjects, so make sure you have them ready when it’s time to find individual subjects.

The subject order you enrol in is a balancing act between how important that time is to you and how popular that subject or timeslot will be. For example, if there's an elective you're desperate to do versus a really convenient seminar time for a compulsory subject, it's probably best to go for the elective first because you're at least guaranteed a spot in the compulsory subject. (They'll have to let you in for your degree.) Plus, they may not offer the elective again.

Leaving room for other activities

When and what public transport runs from your house to campus is always worth considering. Parking is another major issue to think about. If classes after 5pm mean there will be parking spaces, maybe they aren't so bad.

While it's tempting to lump all your classes back-to-back in one day, some people learn best by revisiting information straight after class, so leave an hour gap between each class. Plus, if you space uni out over the whole day with breaks in between, you'll be stuck at uni and may just find that extra spark you need to get a reading done.

Under and overachievers

Four is the standard number of subjects per semester, but it's pretty common for students to do more or less. Doing three subjects in a semester (in other words, 75 per cent) is still considered full-time. For those of you doing summer or winter school, doing three subjects in a semester might be a nice little holiday.

On the other hand, if you’re truly committed and able, five subjects can help you get through your degree faster, or allow you to do three subjects in a later semester.

Make it count

Perhaps the most important point of all is to make sure what you're doing counts towards your degree. For example, if a major in an arts degree only requires two level one subjects, it's pointless to do a third level one subject.

While you should study what you love and are passionate about, there's only so high you want your HECS debt to be. 

Sam Talbot

Sam Talbot is a law and media student at the University of Adelaide. He highly values all-day breakfasts. Twitter with him @SamTalbot5.