An aspect of college that many students struggle with is the process of selecting a major. There are tons of options, many of which you’ve probably never heard of until you actually get into college. I can’t exactly help you with selecting your major, at least not in this particular blog post, (sorry!) but I’ve got a pretty solid method to make sure you’re on the right track for your major so that you can maximize your time in college.
As you may know, I’m a big fan of organizational, color coded spreadsheets. They help me keep my life together and having them on the computer is nice because they can be updated as needed. After trying (and failing) to work our school’s degree planning system online, I decided I needed my own system to keep track of my requirements for my majors and to make sure I was actually taking the right classes I needed for my degree. As such, I created a comprehensive spreadsheet to keep track of my classes and requirements and in this post, I’ll be walking you through how to make one of your own.
Figure out what’s required for your major(s)
This first step seems obvious, but if you aren’t diligent about it your whole project can go awry. Type up a brief summary of the requirements for your major and any other important classes you have to take and leave that at the top of your spreadsheet so you’re always positive about what needs to be done.
Translate the requirements into a chart
Next comes the meat of the project. This will vary depending on the requirements of your individual major and on what information you need to record to keep track of whether you’re meeting your requirements.
For me, the requirements for both my English and Gender, Sexuality, Women’s Studies majors are fairly vague, so I separate the classes into chunks that make sense to me and write down the course number, course name, number of credits, and semester when I took the course. Then I color code my courses: green means I’ve already completed the class, pink means I’m currently enrolled in the class, and orange means it’s a class I need to take in the future. If I don’t know what class I want to take to fulfill a particular requirement, I just leave an orange bar in the spreadsheet to remind myself that I still need to take a class.
After I make the chart, I like to make a little summary at the bottom where I write down how many credits are required for my major, how many I already have or am currently working on, and how many credits I still need. This helps me get an overview of my progress towards my majors in addition to the detailed information provided by the chart breakdown.
Don’t forget your gen eds
Nobody wants to be that senior who has to get special permission to take a 101 class because they forgot to fulfill a general education requirement. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your gen ed requirements alongside your major requirements.
I keep track of my GERs the same way I keep track of my major requirements: course number, course name, number of credits, semester taken, and GER it fulfills. Again, the way that you choose to keep track of these requirements is going to depend on the way your college organizes your gen ed requirements, but this is what works for me.
Add in the extras
Chances are, you probably can’t graduate with just the credits from your major and gen eds. In addition to elective classes I’ve taken and will have to take in college, I also have a number of transfer credits from the AP and IB classes I took in high school. At the bottom of my spreadsheet, I like to make one last breakdown including transfer credits and elective classes so that I’m ensuring I’m on the right track for graduation, not just for my major.
Underneath this breakdown, I included a final summary of how many credits are required for graduation, how many I already have, how many I still need, and how many I will need after my majors and gen eds are completed.
Keeping tabs on my progress towards my majors not only helps ensure I’m on the right track to graduate on time, it’s also a tangible way to keep myself accountable and help me achieve my goals. It makes me feel more in control of my life, helps me be prepared for course registration each semester, and helps make meetings with my academic advisor a breeze.
What do you do to keep track of your major? How do you keep your academic requirements organized? Let me know in the comments or tweet me your tips!