Story and commentary from another friend of mine about course planning in college:
One thing college students often do is blindly take the classes everyone else says they should take, or just what they want to take, not having a clear path in mind. Often they just listen to their advisers. They don’t even know what’s required of them, or if they do, they wait until it’s considerably late in their college career to wake up to the fact. Then the panic sets in. The problem with this approach is that they don’t actually have control over their education and what classes they’re taking.
When I was in college I was very meticulous about my class planning. I have to admit I had NO clue what I was doing my first semester, and it was literally just some guy telling me which five classes I needed to take that semester. However, after that, I was off and running on my own.
I was a bit obsessive about knowing what I had to take and when. I poured over the course booklets and then made basic flow charts that showed me which classes I needed based on general requirements, what was required for my major, and which I had to take first as prerequisites to other classes. Electives were worked in by my putting down all the classes I liked, or was willing to take, to fulfill a specific requirement. It took a bit of work, but I was organized. Scheduling my subsequent semesters was a breeze because I had spent time doing this.
You don’t have to take it to the extreme level that I did, but some sort of knowledge, order, and organization regarding your classes is a must. It also has advantages you might not know about. Here are some ways it can help you:
1) You’ll Know WHEN to Take Specific Classes
I’ve heard of people getting to their senior year, expecting to finish the few classes they have left, and then realizing that they can’t finish a couple of them without having taken the prerequisites! It messes up their whole senior year, and in some cases added on an extra semester they weren’t anticipating. A chart already showing you the way through your classes will help you avoid this kind of scenario.
2) You Can Avoid Taking Classes You DON’T Need
Having your plan on paper can also save you from taking the wrong classes. One adviser I had specifically told me to take a certain class. Paper in hand, I insisted that it was NOT a requirement for my major. We actually butted heads over it for a few minutes. Finally she admitted that it wasn’t required. You know why she wanted me to take it? Because her husband taught it. That was it. I didn’t need it at all! I’m somewhat curious how many other students ended up taking the class because she did this.
3) You Can Avoid RE-taking Classes You Already Have Credit For
Someone I know chose to go to college later in life. One thing her adviser had her do was take the same classes multiple times! Now, how she didn’t know already that she had taken them is beyond me (maybe the names or descriptions were changed), but this easily could have been avoided if she was more aware of her class requirements. Being uninformed about her education led her to blindly following the suggestions of her adviser.
4) You’ll Finish College as Quickly as Possible (If You Wish To)
For me, college wasn’t meant to be fun and games. I was there for one thing, and one thing alone – to get my degree. There were things I had to do for that, and that was what I was going to do. The chart, though maybe a bit extreme, helped me so I didn’t miss necessary classes. It was basically a map of the quickest possible way to complete all the classes I needed.
If you are clueless about what classes are in your future, then today is as good a day as any to educate yourself regarding your education. Find out the specifics behind your major, along with the general class requirements. Figure out what to take, and when. Following this advice could save you from a lot of headaches in the future.