Planning Your College Journey: Steps to Stay on Track for Graduation
by Dr. Kristina Wright
Imagine planning a trip to a new destination, but you don’t have directions to get there. The trip will likely take entirely too long, you will possibly get lost, frustrated, and potentially change your mind and cancel the trip altogether. This is what it can feel like for many students embarking on their journey through college, which is why education and graduation planning is so important.
At Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, we partner with students to create education and graduation plans that support them with graduating in the fastest timeline and with the least debt as possible.
The process for education planning can begin before you even step foot on a college campus and should be revisited each term to ensure you stay on track all the way through graduation.
Find the graduation and/or transfer requirements on your institution’s website or in the course catalog
A course catalog is a publication, often digital and in print, provided by the institution to identify details such as academic programs, student services, policies and procedures.
They include required course lists grouped by area of study which can serve as a great guide or checklist as you work to complete the conditions to obtain your degree.
A student generally needs 60 semester units or credits to be eligible to transfer and/or earn an Associate in Arts (AA) or Science (AS) degree. To earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Science (BS) degree, students typically need 120 semester units or credits.
Create a term-by-term plan, identifying courses you would like to take that fulfill your college, university, or educational program’s requirements
In creating a plan to fulfill your college’s graduation requirements, here are some important tips:
Try to have balanced course loads each term.
Balance means having variety in your course selection and taking a course load that you feel is manageable.
Identify your strengths and areas for growth and create a support plan if necessary.
By acknowledging your areas of growth, you can begin to identify resources (for example: tutoring, peers, professors, student resource centers) that can support you throughout each term.
Have multiple plans
This is highly recommended since you may not always be able to enroll in your first choices.
Schedule regular meetings with an on-campus advisor to confirm your educational and graduation plans
Academic advisors at your college, university, or educational program are dedicated to your success and are aware of all the institution specific requirements. Scheduling an advising appointment each term can ensure that you stay on track toward your education and graduation goals, discover and plan for obstacles, and get questions answered about your major or program.
It may help you to talk through your plan before committing to it, so do not be afraid to reach out for support. In addition to your academic advisors, the college coaches at Making Waves Foundation’s CAP are a great resource.
Remember, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
ABOUT MAKING WAVES FOUNDATION
With a unique focus on college attendance and graduation, Making Waves Foundation supports historically underrepresented and underserved students in pursuing their dreams. Making Waves Academy is a public charter school in Richmond, California, educating more than 1,100 students and Making Waves Foundation’s college success program, known as CAP, provides coaching, scholarships, financial literacy, and career support for more than 500 college students as well as a network for more than 500 Wave-Maker alumni.