Academic Planning

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

One of the most crucial keys to success in academia as well as other places in life is organization. Many students find that balancing the degree requirements for their major or minor (if they have declared one) as well as their general education requirements can be quite daunting. Some find that laying out a basic plan of how to fit in requirements, as well as leaving some space for courses that they may want to take but may not necessarily meet them, quite helpful. Seeing what courses you have already taken, and those you need to take in an organized manner can ensure that you do not go too far off course when choosing classes. This planning can help students meet their academic goals and graduate in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall, the process of mapping out your academic career is quite simple. This guide will outline the steps and information you will need, and then provide an example of a fictional student who has completed some courses, and has created an academic plan. The first step is to take a look at what you have already taken. You can find this through your Degree Progress Report, located through the Student Center on MaineStreet under the ‘Academics’ heading on the left. Record the course name and number, what semester you took it, the number of credits earned and the grade received.

What you’ll need next is a list of requirements. Once again all students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are required to fulfill a set of General Education requirements to help ensure a well-rounded education. Here at the CLAS Advising Center, these general education requirements are some of the most common thing we help our students navigate. You can find a list of them here. Requirements for your major will vary considerably depending on your department guidelines. Speak with your faculty advisor about the best courses to take to earn your degree and will work with your future career goals.

Once you have compiled a list of courses you’ll need to satisfy general education and major requirements, the next step is to plan when you will take each course. Having your academic career planned out visually can help you spread out your courses in a way that does not end up being overwhelming or too heavy in once topic. Having some diversity in your workload keeps the material interesting, breaks up the required courses and prevents too much overlap in one semester.

For the point of this exercise, we will use a fictional student who has completed their first year and has declared a major in Mass Communication (CMJ). This is a breakdown of the courses they have passed so far:

Sample First Year

Note that some courses, such as AVS 145, are able to fulfill two general education requirements. PSY 100 also fulfills the Social Context & Institution requirement, but since it has already been covered by ANY 102, there is no need to list it again.

The next step is to look at what else is needed to graduate. So, for their major in Mass Communication, this student will need:

Required Courses

As well as 6 more courses found on a list of major requirements provided by their department.

As for General Education Requirements, this student needs:

  • Human Values and Social Context – Population and Environment
  • Mathematics – Only one credit of Computer Science can be used towards the math requirement. This student will need another, non-COS course.
  • Writing Competency – A writing intensive course outside of their major as well as one within their major
  • Capstone – A capstone experience worked on with a faculty member in their major department.

So, the academic plan for this student may look something like this:

Academic Plan

So, as you can see, this student has more than enough time and flexibility to satisfy both their major requirements, as well as their general education requirements. Most degree programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences require that students declare a minor or double major. This student has plenty of room to fit in the required courses when they choose their minor.

These academic plans are an effective way to manage your time and set up long terms goals. The staff in the Advising Center at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are here to work with you to help you create an academic plan, look at general education requirements, and provide you with information regarding other campus resources. Schedule an appointment with us today!