While working on a personal project I thought about all of the choices students face when selecting required and elective courses. For instance, students have to take a certain number of sciences to graduate college – but which ones do they choose? Students have spots for electives – but again, which do they choose?
During my first semester of sophomore year in college my girlfriend at the time helped me list out all of the courses I would need to take between second semester sophomore year and graduation. We took it semester by semester and all I had to do first was decide what my limit on credits would be. I thought 18 on average, never more than 21. So, with all of these empty semesters and individual slots open it was time to start plugging in courses. Question now was, how would I do that?
She asked me what I wanted to major and minor in for starters. At the time I had been thinking about finance. Then she told me about her marketing and international business program (dual major). I figured, why not! Finance and International Business it is. Funny how sometimes we make major decisions on a whim. Anyway. So we began to plug in the courses for that dual major as suggested by the business school based on pre-requisites and suggested order. When we finished, I had a lot of empty slots left. So she asked me what else I was interested in. I said I loved math and had already been enrolled in math courses beyond my graduation requirement. So she suggested plugging in more math courses and we tossed in a few statistics courses as well. With that filled in it turned out I had enough for a math/stats dual minor. I thought, cool, why not. I still had a few spots open and we left those open so I would have a little flexibility in choosing courses on a whim. Eventually I would fill most of those left over spots with a few art history, strategic management, and advanced economics courses.
This was my strategy, a.k.a. the roadmap to my college education. I ended up falling short one course from earning the dual minors in math/statistics because I made a decision to take another strategic management course in place of the last math/stats course. That was fine with me. The roadmap wasn’t written in stone and it was meant to be amended. However, it gave me a good framework to start with and use as an ongoing guide.
I think most students would benefit from mapping out their four year high school and/or college careers. It would be based on their interests at the time and would most certainly change as they went along, however, it would give them a great starting point for course selection. If/when students decide to change something, they will know exactly what it affects and what other adjustments might be necessary. For example, you can use different font colors, etc. for classes that are absolutely required so that you don’t simply swap out one of those.
Think about what you would like to accomplish in college and work backwards to see what exactly needs to get done. Keep that document accessible so that you can use it as a guide.
If I can help you create this document, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org