Friday September 30, 2016

Tips for Declaring a Major/Minor

As I've posted in my previous blog, I have been making big changes to my life that include giving up my student-athlete card, and now I have declared two minors in two weeks!

Most people think I'm crazy when they hear that, but really, this is one of the most exciting decisions that I have made so far. After opening up a significant amount of time in my schedule, I figured it was time to get my life together to focus on what I have always wanted to do. Before I knew it I was in my advisor's office talking to him about my plans and I first declared a minor in Entrepreneurship. I was happy, but I realized that there was another fascination in mind that I was leaving out, so I was back in his office two weeks later to declare my second minor in Engineering Technology. 

Here are some tips to getting your decision process started:

1. DegreeWorks is your best friend. 

If you don't already know, DegreeWorks is our online portal that houses all of the information on classes that you need to take in our to complete your degree. In addition to it being an online checklist for your entire time here, it serves as a "catalog" In a way because it gives you a list of courses that would satisfy your requirement for a specific category. Before starting your process, make you can not only access your DegreeWorks through Porches but make sure you are comfortable with using it and getting the information you need. At the beginning of your first year, it can be confusing to read because you have not fulfilled any requirements yet, but once you are comfortable navigating the site, you are ready for the next step. 

2. Get ready to plan out the rest of your time at UD.

This sounds ridiculous, but this is actually the very first thing I did before I did anything. DegreeWorks is an amazing tool that does most of this work for you, but I am a visual learner and organizer, so this step was important to me. Make sure you have lots of paper and a pen ready. I went through each section of my DegreeWorks, and chose all of the classes that I want to and need to take through the second semester of my senior year. I basically did all of my class scheduling early. Now, of course, I won't always get into classes exactly the way I planned, but the point here is to make sure you're going to complete your credits on time. 

(P.S. certain classes double or even triple count for credit in certain categories. This is awesome to know now so that you can get them out of the way early!)

3. Use the WhatIf tab to see what classes are required for your desired major.

DegreeWorks is so awesome that it even tells you how many credits you will need to fulfill your desire major or minor in a What-If tab. Once you do that fill in those courses you need into the list you made to complete your degree for your major. This step was even more important for me because I had TWO minors to fulfill, and it helped me to visualize my schedule not only at UD, but helped me to realize that I need to take a handful courses this summer to stay on track. 

4. Do not neglect summer classes!

Speaking of summer classes, it is important not to overlook this option. Any coursework you complete and transfer in over the summer is helpful, in fact, it is highly recommended. Both semesters freshman year I only took 15 credits instead of 18, so I saw an opportunity last summer to take a CAP (common academic plan) class to catch up on my credits. Now that I have added 27 extra credits to my plan, it is a good idea for me to take some classes in the summer--I plan on taking 4 or 5 this summer at a community college at home. Not only does this save time and keep you on track, but it saves you money, and it continues your learning and growing experience even outside of UD. Even with an internship opportunity this summer, I will be able to take online classes while also getting internship experience. Basically, do everything you can to graduate in four years, even if that means taking an extra summer semester to study!

5. Use the UD course Catalog to look up course descriptions

The UD course catalog can be accessed here, and can be used to look up any course you may need for a specific major, minor, or basic elective. Along with the course name, the descriptions tell you the objectives of the class. this is especially helpful when planning what classes to take in the summer because you can get an idea of what will be approved by your dean to be transferable to UD. 

6. Meet with your advisor and finally, declare.

After I had mapped out my future classes, decided what is most likely to be approved for transfer, I set up a meeting with my academic advisor. This is a full-time faculty member in the department relevant to your major that basically helps you with approved scheduling and anything else you may need. This is actually the easiest part because all they have to do is send an email to the Office of Enrollment Services, and you're all set!

The most important aspect of this process is organization. Don't be afraid to put an hour or two aside to figure this out and weigh out your options. My advisor was there to help and give me advice about which classes to choose based on my passion, and that is the most important resource to have.  

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