Going Stag: Tools, Tricks and Tips for Academic Planning by Yourself

Posted on November 10, 2011 by

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Last time, I talked about academic planning with an advisor. Yet, some students find it difficult to get a meeting with their advisors or just feel better when they can accomplish it alone. Here, I’ll give a general outline of the tools available to IUSB students who want to go this route, along with tricks and tips to help prepare for the meeting with an advisor.

Programs and Requirements

One of the first things to be aware of is your intended program and its requirements, along with the general education requirements. There are many options to major in and each school (Raclin School of the Arts, School of Business and Economics, School of Education, Labor Studies, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Social Work, Purdue College of Technology) has different requirements. The websites above are all set up by the individual school and thus have some differences when navigating them. Another option for these lists is the IUSB Academic Bulletin, which breaks the programs in to their respective schools with information on them as well as listing the individual programs and their requirements in an easy-to-navigate, consistent way. Note: The bulletin is updated every two years, and the four most recent editions are available online. You can also pick up print copies in the Administration Building.

Tools: Unofficial Transcript

One of the first tools for the ambitious student is their unofficial academic transcript. This will allow students to view what they have accomplished thus far, along with grades, transfer and test credit; as well as in progress courses. This is a great starting place for students that have already spent quite a bit of time in college and want their information in one centralized location for planning around. (For those unfamiliar with OneStart, here are some directions to access your Unofficial Transcript.) Depending on how you work best, it may make sense to print out your transcript to work with so you have a hard copy to refer to throughout the planning process. Note: Don’t forget to update your printed transcript every semester you take classes so you keep it up to date!

Tools: Planning Your Program

Many of the schools offer hardcopy requirement checklists to their students so they know where they are in relation to graduation. However, these are not always immediately ready to all students; although the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have them in hallways ready for interested students to pick up, I haven’t seen any readily available for all the available programs (but then again, I’m in the CLAS so that may be one reason). However, talking to that program’s secretary or an advisor within that program would yield beneficial results.

There are also two online options for academic planning nestled within OneStart: the Academic Planner and the What-if Advisement Report.

The Academic Planner
To access the Academic Planner, use OneStart to access your Student Center. Once there, select “Academic Planning” near the top of the screen, on the left hand side. Here, it is highlighted in purple.

By default, the page will open up to the Academic Planner. This tool can be used to search for classes generally, planning by requirements, browsing the course catalog, and creating a vague outline for an academic plan of action. Note: This program also offers the semesters certain classes are offered, but this is not entirely accurate: some classes are only offered on a four year cycle, or based on interest.

To use the “Plan by my Requirements” function, just click that button, dark green here, found near the top of the screen, just under the “Select Career” function.

This will take you to a report request page. Make sure the Institution is filled out properly (South Bend for most readers), and that the report type is the kind you would like. I suggest the “AAR and Transcript” so both of your primary tools are combined. This will use the Academic Advising Report (basically your list of requirements) in conjunction with your transcript to show what classes and requirements you need to fulfill. The “AAR and Planner” function, which should show as the default, uses classes you’ve put in to your planner to show what you want to take that will fulfill your needed requirements. And finally the “Academic Advising Report” shows your basic requirements and if they have been fulfilled or not. One very convenient aspect of this tool is that if you’ve completed a requirement, the tab for that requirement will be collapsed by default so it doesn’t interfere with the rest of your work.

Note: This program is not entirely accurate, as said before. There have been times I’ve used it, and it listed me as an Anthropology major when I was actually an English major. Also, when using the “Plan by my Requirements” function, it may say that a class that does qualify does not, or that a class you’ve already taken has not been taken. This is one reason it’s good to have a copy of your unofficial transcript handy; that way you are certain you’ve taken it. While this can be a useful tool overall, it can be somewhat confusing to use by itself.

What-if Advisement Report

This is a tool I recently discovered and it seems to work in a manner very similar to the Academic Planner (in fact, it even utilizes it in later steps). Access it by going to “My Academics and Grades” in the OneStart student center. On the left hand side of the screen will be the “Advising” Box, and the third option down will be the “What-if Advisement Report.”

This option will take you to a screen summing up this type of report. Basically, you input the degree program you’re looking for, search for classes and then submit the report. The result is combined to your Academic Planner, and you can then view the two together. Ultimately, I prefer the Academic Planner, especially since the end result is basically the same.

Class Scheduling

Once you have a good idea of what you want to take, either general education courses, electives, or degree specific requirements, it’s time to search for classes. This is possible and most effective through OneStart, so you can just add them to your shopping cart and continue moving on. Through OneStart you can search by specific days, times, professors and even components of classes. Another option is the online list of classes, where you can select various options such as a complete list of General Education courses offered, viewing classes offered by departments, and even a complete list of online classes. Note: Again, these lists may not be accurate, and it’s best to use these with another tool such as the enrollment shopping cart to get the most accurate and up to date information for registration.

Even with these tools it is good to have an actual academic advisor to work with you on developing a program, assessing weak areas of study, and helping you reach your academic goals. These tools are here to help students progress on their own and be prepared for academic meetings with an advisor.

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