How to Create A Master Schedule
- Print out a blank master schedule to tentatively organize your courses from freshman to senior year.
- Write down your pre-dental courses in the semesters you want to take them. The sequence and pace is up to you as dental schools don’t care whether you take pre-dental courses within the first two years or spread them out over all four years. Take into consideration:
- The sequence and pace that will enable you to best master the material. Note that your major may also have implications for the sequence of courses. More on that below.
- Other major time commitments (e.g. varsity sport, orchestra) that may interfere with your academic performance.
- Whether or not you want to study abroad. If so, it is best to assume that you will not take any pre-dental requirements abroad. So block off either the fall or spring semester of your junior year.
- The requirements of your desired major (see #3).
- Map out potential majors by dropping into the schedule the required courses. Refer to the College Catalogue for information on requirements and course offerings for concentrations (majors). But note: specific course offerings may vary from semester to semester so consult Web Advisor prior to each semester to confirm that a course is being offered. You may also contact the chair of the department to ask about potential changes in a department. Pay attention to:
- The number of credits/courses required. For example, a concentration in biology consists of 12.5; chemistry consists of 8; economics consists of 9.
- Specific courses that are required. For example, Neural Plasticity and Cellular Neurobiology are required courses for neuroscience; a concentration in math consists of six specific requirements plus three electives.
- When courses are offered. Many are only offered in fall (e.g. Chem 120, Biochemistry 346, Intro to Brain and Behavior) while others are only offered in the spring (e.g. Genes and Genomes, Organic Chemistry, Systems Neuroscience). Note the letter F or S following the course number.
- Course pre-requisites. For example, a concentration in biochemistry/molecular biology requires either Biophysical Chemistry or Physical Chemistry for which the prerequisite courses include calculus and physics – in addition to Chem 270 for Biophysical Chemistry and either Chem 125 or 190 for Physical Chemistry. Pre-requisites are noted in the College Catalogue.
- Whether a course is a “lab” course, meaning that there are three hours of lab in addition to three hours of classroom instruction.
- The senior thesis/project. Some departments require only a one-semester thesis/project; some require two; some give students the choice. A thesis in biology is two semesters but is 1.5 credits.
Mapping out potential majors alongside pre-dental requirements will enable you to see what is manageable. If it results in three lab sciences in one semester, then you probably should consider other options and may need to make some difficult decisions. Think of it like a complex puzzle or problem that you have to solve. As a pre-dental student, this will be just one of many!
It may help to work backwards from senior year in order to determine if prerequisite courses need to be taken.
- Consider a few sample schedules if you’re having trouble getting started.
- Don’t forget to plan for courses that you WANT to take (outside of the sciences)! Remember what drew you to a liberal arts college in the first place.
Meet with your academic advisor
- Make an appointment with your academic advisor during your first year once you have worked to better understand the trajectory of your pre-dental requirements.
- This is a great way to begin course planning so he/she can help you to identify and determine an appropriate sequence for completing your pre-dental requirements and your other educational objectives.
- Create a tentative master schedule before meeting with your advisor in order to productively discuss time commitments and course trajectory during your meeting.
- Your advisor will also ensure that you are meeting other requirements for the College, such as writing-intensive classes as well as foreign language requirements for study abroad programs.