I’m a very visual and hands-on person. I learn best when given graphs, diagrams, timelines, photos, drawings, or tasks to do. Anything physically attainable helps me to grasp concepts and wrap my mind around ideas and lessons.
This translates outside of the classroom and into my everyday life. This not only visible in the way that I plan my day with color coding, two planners, and Google Calendar, but also in the way that I prepare myself by making to-do lists for my job or drawing out set diagrams for my theatrical performances or even planning my future and set goals for myself.
Registering for classes in college is incredibly stressful. How many credits are you going to take? How many classes does that translate to? When are those classes available? Are you going to be table to take all the ones you need? Which semester are they offered? Who is the professor? Will you be able to take them all?
Or the worst of all… which all of these factor into: Will you be able to graduate on time?
If that question doesn’t get you anxious, I don’t know what will.
That’s how I felt. Anxious, overwhelmed, unsure, and frankly scared that I wouldn’t be able to graduate in 4 years and that I would have to pay another full year of tuition and take out more student loans.
I felt this way because my school does not have a good way to outline what you need to to take. With requirements for my Major and Minor on top of General Education requirements, it’s a lot to be unsure about.
So I sat down with a piece of paper, my markers, and colored pencils and got to work mind mapping.
First off, gather the materials that you need for this project.
- Colored pencils/crayons/markers (I used fine tip markers and colored pencils to create contrast of color intensity)
- A pencil
- A ruler
- A required course list
Determine the Requirements
While putting it all down in the mind map certainly helps to visualize it all, you still need to know what you’re going to put down prior to doing it. Get a required course list. Personally, my school has a really good layout for it online on their website and student portal, and I know that most schools have printed out versions that you can pick up from the Registrar’s office. I had multiple versions of this in front of me to make sure that it was all accurate.
From here, grab a scratch piece of paper and make a super brief list of all the requirements. Let’s start with the core or general education requirements that you have in addition to your major.
These usually come in different categories such as English or Science or Math. Make a list of those categories and the number of courses that you are required to take under each category.
Repeat for you major, and minor if you have one.
Personally, my most daunting requirements are the general education ones. They suck.So I started with the General Education requirements since there are so many more of those than my major requirements. Then after that map was done I made a map for my major and minor requirements.
Get your ruler, a pencil, and the piece of blank paper and get started. Make a title at the top of the paper, and start making boxes on the paper to represent each category of classes. I made my boxes 2 inches wide. If the category only required 1 course I made it 1 inch tall, for 2 courses I made it 1.5 inches tall, and for 3 courses I made it 2 inches tall.
Make a horizontal line about 1/3 of the way into the box and put the category title up there. Then number down the left side based on the number of courses in that category. On the right side put a little circle corresponding to each number. This will serve as a check box when that course is complete.
Make a box for each category using this method. Then color code if you want to. I color coded by going over my black lines with a marker of that color then coloring in the title box with a colored pencil lightly.
After that is done, write in all the courses in which you have already completed, or are currently enrolled in, in black marker. Put a check mark in the circle next to the courses which you have completed, and leave the ones which you are enrolled in but haven’t completed blank. If you have completed all the courses in one category, make a bigger check box next to the title of the category and check that off!
Now you’re able to see what categories you still need to take classes under. If you have any courses in mind that you are interested in taking but haven’t registered for yet, right them in under that category in pencil now.
Repeat making these maps for your major and minor requirements if that applies to you. I personally used an entire paper for my general education requirements, but I was able to fold one in half to fit both my major and minor requirements.
Read and Review
Ok this is cheesy, but this is the part that helped calm me down the most… actually using the map. After the map was created, I was able to look back and count up how many courses I still need to take. I could estimate how many credits that would be, divide it by the number of semesters I have left… and I discovered that I can easily graduate after only 3 and a half years of school. I could even do 3 years if I pushed myself and took a full course load.
This calmed me down, from being concerned that I wasn’t going to graduate in 4 years and helped me to figure out what courses that I should focus on taking this upcoming semester.
Hopefully it does the same for you!
How do you plan your classes? Do you have a method that works for you? Tell me about it in the comments!