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Is It Better To Take Courses in the Morning or Afternoon?

College is a time of growth, change, and self-discovery. Students likely feel incredibly excited to start their classes. However, a question arises: Is it better to take courses in the morning or afternoon?

Morning classes can be better for students who want to be more alert and need more time throughout the day because of work and other activities. Afternoon classes are a better option for students who can’t focus in the morning and want to spend time studying or doing homework beforehand.

The rest of this article will detail the pros and cons of taking a morning or afternoon class.

Choosing between morning and afternoon courses.

Morning Classes

If a student isn’t much of an early bird, morning classes probably aren’t for them. However, if they can force themselves awake and make it to an 8 AM class, morning classes might be worth it.

The following sections go over the pros and cons of morning classes and whether you should take a more challenging class in the morning:

Pros

  • Students can do classes early in the day. The great thing about morning classes is that they take place in the morning. Morning classes mean that students can wake up, get ready, go to their morning classes, and finish their academic work for the day.
  • Early morning classes give students time to work or participate in extracurricular activities. If students have responsibilities other than school, getting their courses out of the way before a shift or a club meeting might be a high priority. Fortunately, most clubs and work probably occur in the afternoon, so morning class might work for that kind of schedule.
  • Students will have more time (and energy) to complete homework assignments. At times, students can begin to feel tired as the day progresses, making doing homework feel like a chore. However, students who take morning classes have more time throughout the day to do their work and won’t have to cram it in before bed. Additionally, they will likely feel less tired if they have morning classes rather than afternoon classes.
  • Students can practice a healthier sleeping routine. Morning classes will motivate students to practice better sleeping habits by pushing them to sleep earlier rather than stay up late. Scientists and doctors recommend that adults get an average of 8 hours of sleep. Morning classes make students try and sleep on a regular schedule.

Cons

  • Students have to wake up early. Waking up in the morning can be a chore for some people. Students who do not enjoy waking up in the mornings and instead hit the snooze button should not take morning classes.
  • Missing morning classes can significantly decrease performance. If a student keeps missing their morning classes, they can fall behind. Falling behind in a morning class is especially true on exam days and if attendance is part of a student’s grade. It can be tempting to skip morning classes; however, students should always attend all their courses unless they are sick or have an extenuating circumstance.
  • Students still have to function. Even if students force themselves to go to class, they will still have to focus and take notes. If a student isn’t active in the morning, morning classes will likely be a struggle.
  • It will be hard to pull all-nighters. Inevitably, students will stay up late to ensure that they have done their work or studied for an exam. However, staying up late might not be beneficial if you have morning classes. Staying up late the night before a morning class will become a burden and make it hard to wake up and get to class. If taking a morning class, students should avoid staying up late.

Should You Take Harder Courses in the Morning?

Some students might be wondering if taking more challenging courses in the morning is worth it. When registering for classes, students should evaluate if they can handle waking up early and focus in the morning.

Students should take harder courses in the morning. After all, they will be able to focus better because people tend not to have a lot on their minds in the morning. Morning classes also give students enough time to study the material later throughout the day.

Taking more complex classes in the morning is beneficial for students who can wake up and focus.

Sources: The Odyssey Online and University of Utah

Afternoon Classes

If a student has a busy afternoon schedule, afternoon classes might be hard to navigate. However, if they prefer to spend their mornings catching up on work and don’t want to worry about oversleeping, afternoon classes are a great choice.

The following sections elaborate further on the pros and cons of taking afternoon classes:

Pros

  • Students have the morning to themselves. Students will not have to worry about waking up early in the morning to get to class. Instead, students can wake up and focus on doing other things in the morning.
  • Students might be able to focus a little better. If students aren’t attentive in the morning, taking a class in the afternoon can be a better option for them. Taking a course in the afternoon is a good choice for students who can’t function in a morning class.

Cons

  • Afternoon classes can conflict with club meetings and work. Students who plan to participate in clubs, extracurriculars, and working a job need to consider if their afternoon classes will conflict with their schedule. Since clubs tend to meet in the afternoons, it will be hard for students to navigate attending afternoon classes and club meetings.
  • Students should try to get stuff done in the morning before class. Though afternoon classes are perfect for students who aren’t morning people, students should still try to get their work done in the morning and be productive. Trying to have a productive morning can become an issue for some students as they might want to get their class over with and would prefer to finish their work later.

Sources: Colleges of Distinction

Tips on Scheduling

Now that there has been discussion on the pros and cons of morning and afternoon classes, students should consider other factors when scheduling their courses for the semester. Whether a student chooses to take mostly morning or afternoon classes isn’t the only vital aspect of planning a class schedule.

The following few sections are some tips that students can use to plan out a schedule.

Check the Degree Audit

Every college and university student has a degree audit. A degree audit is a document that students and their academic advisors can reference to ensure that students are taking the required classes they need to take to graduate.

On a student’s degree audit, they can track what classes they’ll need to take, what they have already taken, and what their options might be.

Students can use their degree audit to set up their schedule by looking at the courses available in the semester and referencing the degree audit to get an idea of what classes they should include in the plan.

A good way for students to do this is to print out their degree audit or have it easily accessible and plan out their courses for the year on a piece of paper or a document on their computer. They could also cross off or check off classes as they complete them.

Speak With an Academic Advisor

Academic advisors help students navigate through their schedules and graduate in a reasonable time. They can also give academic or career-planning advice to students.

Students should approach their academic advisors with confidence when they are not sure how to plan their schedules. Academic advisors will assist students in selecting suitable courses for the student for the semester.

Some schools also require that students meet with an academic counselor before they can even add or drop courses.

One good tip in discussing scheduling with your academic advisor is to ask them about taking a class relating to your major along with the general education requirements. Students should try to take major courses early to feel for their major and change it if necessary.

Research the Professors

Even if students find a particular subject engaging or need to complete a course for graduation, professors can make or break the experience for some students.

When adding classes, students can see who the professor for the course is. Websites like ratemyprofessors.com have professors from almost every college in the U.S., and students can write reviews about the professor on the site.

Students can use this tool to determine if they would do well in a class taught by a professor (and likely avoid professors that aren’t suitable for them).

Students can also see information such as how many students would retake the professor if they could, the difficulty level of the course, if attendance is mandatory, and if the professor requires the textbooks listed on the syllabus.

Students can also contact upperclassmen peers and ask them about their experiences taking a class with certain professors.

Professors are an essential part of students excelling in a course, and students should try to make sure that they take a class with a good one.

Be Mindful of the Distance

Students should be able to see the time of the course and the location or classroom in which it takes place. When compiling classes together, students should determine how far away each class is and if they will make it on time.

It is okay if students choose to take two or three classes back to back. However, students should be wary if their campus is large and buildings are farther away from each other. Students should be able to honestly evaluate if they will be able to attend class on time or if they should pick the course at a later time.

This tip is crucial for morning classes. If a student knows that they will struggle to get up and leave for class in the morning, it would be wise not to schedule a course that is a long distance away from their dorm or home.

Evaluate Other Obligations

Students have other obligations other than their academics. It is very likely that every student is part of a club, does volunteer work, internships, or has a job. All of these activities need tending to along with school work.

When adding courses, students should be sure that they have a good idea of their schedule outside of school and determine what they can fit and what to drop.

An excellent piece of advice that students should consider is their major and how it can fit with their clubs and work. For example, if a student is majoring in communications or journalism, they should consider participating in the school newspaper or becoming a freelance writer and starting a blog.

Doing these activities is a great way to build up a resume, and it can help students figure out what activities they can drop that isn’t relevant to their major or personal interests.

For Electives Choose Classes That Are Interesting

Most universities require that students take courses that are free electives. Free electives are classes that students can take that don’t relate to their major, and can be chosen freely. An example of an elective course is a student who is majoring in biology taking a creative writing course.

For students wanting to take electives, it is best that the students choose classes that correlate with their interests. If a student is working towards a degree in history but has an interest in graphic design, they should choose a class related to that specific interest.

Picking a course that is not interesting to the student might result in burnout, boredom in the class, and cause the student to waste time in a subject they have no interest in.

Taking a course that is interesting to the student can have the opposite effect and make the student’s time in college more enjoyable as they continue on with hobbies or activities that they have always enjoyed (or maybe even develop an interest in something they have never tried before).

Sources: Rate My Professors and ThoughtCo

Conclusion

Deciding whether to take morning or afternoon classes can be a struggle for any college student, as figuring out your schedule is vital to college success. 

However, if they know themselves well and can figure out what time works best for them, they can quickly figure it out independently. There is also an abundance of resources you can use to help them, and you should not hesitate to use them.

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