I’ve finished my academic plan at the University of Oregon (UO). It took me a little longer than my “grad plan” (yes, that’s what they call it) at BYU-Idaho, but there’s a lot more to consider. For anybody that’s contemplating transferring from BYU-Idaho to another school, say, the UO, this is definitely something that you’ll want to read. Other schools make you go through the same thing the UO had me do.
Step 1: Get Your Degree Audit, Create Your Grad Plan, and Submit for Approval
At BYU-Idaho, you can get your degree audit by looking through the university’s catalog or by visiting the department you’re wanting to major in. You’ll find that most everything is planned out for you. You just need to buckle down and take the courses as they’re outlined. Since you won’t be able to find the syllabus for any of your courses online, you don’t have to take the time to see what kind of workload you’ll have like you do at the UO.
I’m just going to say this now: Plan for your major and minor (if applicable). The way it works at BYU-Idaho is that you’re supposed to plan for your major and minor if you’re going to declare it. This is, of course, if you hadn’t done so in your application. It can be a pain in the butt, but you know, it’s somewhat worth it.
You can access the BYU-Idaho Grad Planner here. Yes, you really can! You just have to use your login information. This is where you’ll start to put in your major courses and then work in your general education. Keep in mind that it will be normal if you notice that you’re taking five to seven courses just to get around 12 credits. Once you’ve got everything in there the way it’s supposed to be, without anything turning red, you can submit it for approval. Next, you’re going to need to call, email, or visit your major department’s Academic Discovery Center (ADC) wherever it’s located.
Step 2: Meet With a Peer Advisor, Declare Your Major (If Needed), Get Treated Like a Kid
You now check in and wait to be called to speak wit ha peer advisor. What? You thought you were going to get a professor or someone else as your advisor? Please! You should understand that those people are only for planning purposes and advice. That is, that’s their purpose when it comes to your career in the future. The advisors you get at BYU-Idaho are professors in your major, but they’re not really meant for planning out your courses. You can ask them for opinions, but they might not say much about it. In fact, most professors don’t really realize that they have people they advise. Mainly, this is because most students don’t even know that they have someone like that.
When you meet with your peer advisor (who was usually younger than me), someone who is not necessarily part of your department and knows absolutely nothing about your major or courses, you can declare your major. You just tell them, “I would like to declare my major as “insert major here.” They then ask for your student ID number so they can check your grad plan. Here is where things get really frustrating.
The peer advisor comes back to you at their little partitioned desk with a small packet they just printed out. It’s your degree audit for your major. Just remember that they’re usually not even majoring in the same department as you and you’re going to need patience. Once they start highlighting stuff, you know you’ve got trouble (usually). It’s only trouble if they start out talking to you with, “Here’s what you need to do.”
They’ll tell you what you need to change and you just do it. I mentioned that they may treat you like a kid. Well, if you argue with them about the availability of a certain course, then you’re usually going to be met with a stupid correction from them. However, if you have courses with limited availability and they don’t seem to understand that, tell them. They’re used to ignoring what your department told them. Also, don’t be rude with them or you might get someone writing an angry email at you. I didn’t think I was too rude, but I could’ve been better. I got an email saying to never do that again, as if I were a child. The guy was younger than me.
You know that you did your job, and you did it well, if you’re told, “Okay! We got everything set and declared for you.” This is rarely the case on the first try without the help of an experience BYU-Idaho student. The dumb part is that you can’t even declare your major until you’ve completed everything.
Step 3: Modify Your Grad Plan and Submit for Approval (Again)
When you’ve gotten home after the long walk of cursing in your head, it’s time to make the necessary changes. Once you’ve done this, you can submit your grad plan for approval, again. Then you get to make an appointment, again. And then you get to go meet with them, again. Usually, you’re going to be assigned to a different person who might not know what you were told last time.
Step 4: Do As You’re Advised or Have a Great Day
If something is still not right, you’ll be repeating step three. If not, you’ll be told to have a great day. This is how you plan for graduation at BYU-Idaho. It was just these four easy steps and, now, you’ll have access to your plans whenever you need them! It’s finally over! No more appointments with peer advisors. No more having to go into grad planner unless you’re registering for classes.
The University of Oregon
Step 1: Declare Your Major and Get Your Degree Audit
In DuckWeb, the UO’s version of my.byui.edu, you have to go to the student menu and open your degree audit. Of course, this is after you’ve declared your major. Hopefully, you didn’t choose undecided when applying to go here. Because if you did, then you’d have to go to the department where your major is located and speak with an advisor there. No, I don’t mean a peer advisor. I’m talking someone who is usually much older than you and has a very good knowledge of the departments and major. The process is the same for declaring a minor.
Once you get your degree audit, you’ll notice that it has everything you need for your degree. Oh, in case you were wondering, depending on your major, you’ll need to declare your degree as well. The difference is that instead of declaring a subject, you’re declaring whether you’re getting a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS; funny, I know). Before deciding, know that in any case, the BA degrees all require two years of a second language. You can test out of it. But you should know that if you don’t, you’ll either have to test again (if they allow you to) or take the courses. Now, we can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Open Excel and Choose General Education Courses
I prefer to use Excel when planning out courses at the UO. It allows me to look at how much it’s going to cost and I can usually track and forecast my GPA with it. The reason why I say you should choose your general education courses so early in the planning process is because you’re not actually going to plan them yet. There’s a page on the UO’s website that shows you which general education groups are satisfied by what courses. You will learn to love and hate this page.
At BYU-Idaho, you noticed that there were some strict guidelines on taking this course or that course. It makes life quite easy because you don’t have to think about what you want to take. You just take courses until they give you a piece of paper with your name and major on it. The UO is much more free with general education and it wants you to take whatever courses you feel would be most beneficial to you. To me, this makes much more sense because not everybody is going to need to take some of the courses BYU-Idaho requires everybody to take. I’d rather take some music, psychology, and even some human physiology. The subjects don’t sound useful, but trust me, the courses are.
When it comes to selecting your general education courses at the UO, I strongly urge you to be realistic and look at the course syllabus for each course that you want to take. They’re usually found online (you can use Google). This part takes forever. But it’s better to get it done now because, if you don’t take the time to do it now, you’ll end up taking the time to do it later. The reason why I say you should do some deep research into these courses is because you’ll want to know the kind of workload you’re going to have while you’re planning things out.
Step 3: Fit in Prerequisites and Major Courses
This is where you start to actually plan courses. First, you need to see what your prerequisites are. You can do this by going to the UO Catalog, choosing your major, selecting the “Courses” button, and then compare with your degree audit to see what you need to take. You may or may not need to have a second tab for other subjects open. For example, because economics is heavily math related, and is jokingly called a math degree in disguise, I’ll need to have the catalog open to the math department as well.
What makes life difficult here is thinking, “Oh gosh, do I really need to take all three of those courses with exactly the same name?” At a quarter system school, much of the time, yes, you do. However, it won’t be as hard as taking it at BYU-Idaho because the UO doesn’t try to cram too much of a topic into one term. In many cases, you won’t have to take all three terms of it. Another hard part is when you realize that you need to put the class off until later because it’s got a lot of prerequisites.
Again, I strongly urge you to look up the course syllabus for your major courses online. You’ll be so glad that you did because, if it’s actually available, you’ll get a feel for the course. The better prepared you are, the better you’ll do in your courses. BYU-Idaho’s professors put everything on the school’s online platform. So you can’t really just go looking for the syllabus.
Step 4: Deciding How Many Credits You Want to Take and Fitting in General Education Courses
Finally! Your hard work in selecting your general education courses has paid off! Oh, you didn’t do that? Well, then you’re going to have one really interesting time at this part. Remember when I mentioned earlier that if you didn’t take the time then, you’ll have to do it now? I really meant that. If you did as I advised you to do, then great! Let’s keep reading!
Before you get too crazy about how many credits you want to take, you should answer some questions first: Are you going to be working? Do you want to have a social life or get done quicker? Do you want to get better grades than you would’ve gotten at BYU-Idaho? Do you usually know your limits? If you answer yes and chose to have somewhat of a social life, then you shouldn’t take much more than 12 – 16 credits. This equates for three to four courses at the UO. Don’t push it before you’ve tried 12 – 16 credits.
Once you know how many credits you’re going to take, you can just start filling up your schedule. I suggest knowing the workload of each course and then putting lighter workloads with the harder courses as well as keeping a good mix of light and heavy workloads. This way, you won’t end up failing the classes that really matter and you won’t have a quarter of hellacious 200 total pages of reading per week.
Step 5: Register for the Next Term’s Courses
Registration is done on DuckWeb, but you should see if your course is available first. The UO has a class schedule that allows you to pick the term you’re wanting to register for and then see how many seats are available in your courses. By the way, that thing that says CRN, that’s how you register for courses in DuckWeb. Most of the time, courses are available either most or every quarter. However, I’ve run into the rarity that is a course not being offered during a quarter.
Compare and Contrast
BYU-Idaho’s grad planner and peer advisor system takes a while, but not as long at the UO’s do-it-yourself system. The nice part about the UO’s system is that you’ll have an actual advisor who is there to not only help you with course planning, they’ll tell you what not to take together if they see a big problem with you taking it. It’s easy to tell that BYU-Idaho won in terms of simplicity, but the UO won in terms of everything else such as: Nicer people, people that know what they’re talking about, advisors that know they’re supposed to help you, and the freedom to take many of over 800 courses that can help you in rounding yourself out the way you want to be.