Step #3: Identify Courses and Organize a Possible Schedule

You’re making good progress!  You’ve reflected carefully on your interests and priorities; you’ve browsed Dickinson’s departments and programs; and you’re ready to identify specific courses for your first semester…


The first thing you need to do is identify the courses that best fit your interests and priorities. Your decision making will involve a combination of searching for available courses and making strategic decisions.

Good news: Dickinson’s online course selection tool, Banner, includes a number of powerful search features that can help you identify courses that represent the best fit for you. Banner is accessed through a tab (SSB Button) on the Dickinson Gateway. For help you can use this handbook

More good news: Dickinson professors want to make it easy for you to strategize! They have organized their best guidance for incoming students in Academic Programs and Majors Advising Guides specific to each department.

  • Advising Guides provide a useful introduction or overview of the field and give advice about what courses prospective majors should take. 

The last step is to make sure that the courses you’re considering will fit together: courses are only offered Monday to Friday (yes, you MUST find something else to do with yourself over the weekend!); there are only 24 hours in a day; and you can’t be two places at the same time.

Good news: We’ve created a nifty organizer: blank scheduling worksheet that shows common course meeting times.

More good news: Many popular courses offer multiple sections that meet at different times

Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing Your Schedule
You may find that your schedule snaps together without much effort at all, either because your decisions seem straightforward or because you find solutions intuitively.  However, if you encounter complications (often these involve a single course that is offered at multiple times or two courses that are offered at the same time), here’s a tried-and-tested method of building your schedule:

  1. Block out the meeting time of your First-Year Seminar. Your First-Year Seminar is the keystone of your first semester schedule, and you need to plan your other courses so that they fit without overlapping or creating time conflicts.
  2. Note all the available meeting times for your second course. We recommend using a different color pen for each course to make things easy to read, and we also recommend starting with your language course: most first-year language courses meet five times per week in the morning. When a single course is available at different times, we distinguish among the different meeting times as different “sections.” For example, ECON 111-02 is the 2nd section of ECON 111, and it meets at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday. 
  3. Repeat step #2 for your third course. If you will request a natural science course with a laboratory component, we recommend entering it next. Lab courses include a special lab meeting time for a total of 6 classroom hours per week. (Again, we recommend using a different color pen for each course.)  
  4. Repeat step #2 for your fourth course.  
  5. Choose specific courses and course sections that fit together without overlapping. (This step is shown by using yellow circles in the exaple Scheduling worksheets, linked below.)

If you have multiple options, we recommend that you spread your courses out evenly throughout the week.

  • Look ahead at the number of students that can be accomodated in the sections you’re considering through Course Priorities; Dickinson keeps its class sizes small even for lectures. 

Nifty Organizer: Blank Scheduling Worksheet
Sample Worksheet #1
Sample Worksheet #2 

Are you ready? On to Step 4: Course Request and Schedule Adjustment