Note: in May of 2016 I decided I was dorky enough to warrant more posts of this organizational nature so this title has been retroactively changed and now is the first part of a series called How I Organize My Life. You can find parts two and three in the links!
This isn’t the most fun topic that I’ll be writing about here, but I think it’s really important, especially as a university student.
This Spring 2015 term is my first term on campus during the summer and I don’t know why past!Vicky did this to future!Vicky, but I’m sure she was vindictively laughing as she signed up for 6 courses. Okay, I’m being melodramatic, I know exactly why I took 6 courses this term and it has a lot to do with poor planning in my first year. I basically didn’t figure out that I wanted to minor in anything until my 2A term and I didn’t get a good start on those minor requirements. What I did do was knock out all of my breadth requirements for my degree so I guess, win/lose situation for me?
So I plotted out the rest of my courses from now until I graduated and figured that I need to be taking either an online course during a work term to catch up, or slip in a 6th during this term. It helped that this term I already had an online English course so I wouldn’t be spending additional time on campus. It also might have something to do with the fact that taking a 6th course is free, whereas taking a course during a work term will cost me upwards of $600.
You might be asking yourself a couple of questions at this point including “Is she crazy?”, “Why would anyone do that to themselves?”, and “Can I take a free course as well?”. Answers are: possibly crazy, to catch up on my minor, and possibly? Waterloo doesn’t let you take a 6th course until you are in your 2nd year and you have to prove that you can handle a regular full-time course load to begin with (75% average minimum). Talk to your academic advisor about this and really figure out if you can handle the workload. There’s no point in taking extra courses if it negatively impacts your other courses and you are in jeopardy of repeating something.
What I suggest doing as early as possible (probably around your 1B term):
- Figure out what you want to declare as your major and contemplate your minor as well.
- This is strongly recommended but also keep in mind that you have opportunities to switch your major if you decide it’s not for you. Don’t fret that you’re locking yourself into one path.
- Plan your courses – all of them! – and run it by your academic advisor.
I am weirdly into making Excel charts to help track everything from my budgets to my course plan to my readings. There’s a template for a study plan available on the Waterloo site but my academic program has a lot of components to it so it was easier for me to figure things out on my own.
So this is my very expansive and slightly complicated course planner. I have it organized by term across the top and category of study going down the left:
- Arts Breadth Requirements (general degree)
- Arts and Business Requirements (my program)
- Global Governance Requirements (my specialization within my major)
- Speech Communications Requirements (my minor)
- Political Science Requirements (my major – don’t ask why it’s at the bottom of this list)
So I plotted out exactly what courses I needed and when I needed to take them in this chart and I also tracked if I’ve completed the course. Courses can fulfil multiple requirements which is a godsend, to be honest. Even if your program/degree isn’t as complicated as I made mine, I think that doing this is a good way to make sure you stay on top of the courses you need.
Stay excited for my next post which is most likely going to be about time management – she says as she puts off doing her assignments.