Friday, October 3, 2008


Now I'm going to assume that you really want to graduate in four years, that you don't want to waste a fifth year's time and tuition. If so, here are some ideas on how to get that done.

First, get on your college's website and look up your major. Most majors will have their own page where you can learn exactly what classes you need to take in order to graduate. They will also list the requirements for getting into that major. Obviously some majors are more difficult to get into than others, with special grade requirements, or interviews, or other subjective criteria that will need to be fulfilled. THE EARLIER YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO GET INTO YOUR MAJOR, THE BETTER OFF YOU ARE.

Now you need to be realistic. Don't get your heart set on a journalism major that requires a 3.0 GPA when you have never achieved a 3.0 GPA in your life unless you know you are about to have a major life changing event take place that will suddenly turn you into a dean's list student. This next point is important. This does not mean you can't have a career in journalism, it just means you won't be able to graduate with a major in journalism. Don't let your major restrict what you can achieve with the rest of your life.

Second, list all the courses you need in order to graduate. Now let's say that you are a Sophmore that recently changed major so you have several courses that don't apply any longer to your new major. You also have several Freshman level classes that are required for your new major that you haven't taken yet. Changing majors more than once is fairly common and it is one of the main reasons that students to take five years or longer to graduate.

Third, take the list of classes you made above to an advisor at your college that is familar with your major. Make sure you haven't misunderstood any of the requirements or forgot anything. Once you are sure you have listed all the classes needed to complete your degree, you are ready for the last step.

Fourth, look in your college catalog of classes to determine when each of these classes is offered. Some classes are only taught every other year, or just in the Fall. You need to know this so you don't miss scheduling the class during the limited time it is offered.

Now you are ready to make your master schedule of classes over the rest of your college years. List what you will take quarter by quarter or semester by semester, balance your classes by those that require heavy reading vs. writing papers vs. math vs. easy vs. difficult vs. lecture vs. lab, etc. You need to mix and match your classes so that you aren't too heavy in one quarter/semester and too easy in another.

At this point it will become clear to you whether you need to take classes over the summer or not. Taking summer classes can get you right back on track to graduate in four years.

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