Academic Planning: A REAL Guide to Picking Classes

Let's talk schedules.

Now that school is winding down and winter break has arrived it’s the perfect time to make sure that you’re on track for transferring and graduation. So in order to make sure that there aren’t any surprises come the end of the school year, you should probably start scheduling appointments with your school counselors. Below are some useful tips that will help you make the most of your time that you have left at your current college.

IGETC (Transferring)

Before you do anything else this quarter/semester GO GET AN IGETC! The IGETC is a list of general ed requirements that should be completed at your college/university before you transfer. These classes should be your main concern your first two years in college. If you're a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) major as of 2015 there is a special IGETC that you should follow, so do not listen to the rumors that you shouldn't follow the IGETC if you're STEM. I recommend filling our the IGETC and your academic plan with a counselor because some high school classes will fill requirements, like the language section. Here are some links to IGETC information for both UC's and CSU's:
 Now that general education is taken care of you're going to need to start planning out your major. See (Transferring)

This website is especially important because it tells you what classes universities want you to complete in order to apply for that major at their university. The UC and CSU system are different and have very different requirements for admissions, that means you need to eventually decide what system you're going to want to aim for, but that's not super important right now. Here's the link to the website: ASSIST.
In order to make the most of this website you're going to want to:
  1. Input the current college that you're attending.
  2. Input the university that you want to transfer to.
  3. Input your intended major.
The website will bring up a list of classes that you will need to complete or nearly complete before applying, the page also tells you about the TAG program and if the university offers one. TAG (Transfer Admission Guarantee) is an agreement between your college and the universities saying that if you complete the following classes with a 3.0 GPA or better they will guarantee you admission to the university; HOWEVER, you may only TAG one university. Here is a link about it: TAG.

 Degree Requirements (Graduation)

On your school’s website or outside your major’s department office there will be posted degree requirements that must be met for graduation. Be sure to consult this checklist of requirements whenever you’re picking your next set of classes, this will keep you on track. Furthermore,  always have a 1 academic plan in order to give priority to classes that are only offered once or twice a year.
During my stay at UCSC I kept a print out of the checklist by my computer which gave me motivation because after finals I was able to mark off a couple more classes.

Warnings About Counselors (Transferring&Graduation)

Most of the time counselors did not graduate with the degree you seek, be sure to take their advice on classes with a grain of salt. Some students run into graduation delays due to counselors recommending introductory classes that are unnecessary, which can cause up to 1 year delays in graduation. My best advice, to make sure that you’re on the optimal path, is to seek out peer advisers through your department. These advisers are upper division students that have your major and know the best path to take for an on-time graduation. Not to mention these students can give you advice about what teachers to avoid, classes that they didn’t enjoy, and gage whether you should take that introductory class or skip it. When I was in undergrad, I often consulted these advisers first and then talked to the school counselor about my proposed plan.

**Also if your advisor says that you can replace a required class with another class that is not on your degree requirements checklist be sure to get that approval in writing with a signature. Some students have been denied graduation because the department does not want to recognize the class that the counselor allowed you to exchange.**

With all of these helpful websites now in your pocket you won't have to worry about taking classes that don't transfer, aren't needed, or delay your timeline. Remember to also check in with your counselor at least once a quarter/semester to update your academic plan. Good Luck and see you next Wednesday!