Sunday, April 3, 2011

Three Reasons the College Catalog is Your Friend

Three Reasons the College Catalog is Your Friend

By Linda Pogue

When going to college, it is important to get a copy of the college catalog, even if it is only an electronic copy, of the college catalog that is current when you begin classes. If the only copy you can get is an electronic copy, at the very least, save it to your hard drive. It is a good idea to make a backup on another drive and maybe even print it out. There are several reasons for this.

  1. Your degree program's specific requirements will be listed. One idea is to put a pencil mark beside each class as you complete it. This will give you a visual record of what you have accomplished and what you still need to take.
  2. Degree program specific requirements change often. If your degree requirements change while you are continuously enrolled in the program, the college should honor the original contract(i.e. catalog) from when you enrolled. Sometimes, this means you will take a substitution course for a course that is no longer offered in your degree program, but it will make completing your degree a stationary target, as opposed to a moving target that can't be accomplished.
  3. You can plan ahead. By checking out which courses you have to take, then making a list and noting which courses have pre-requisites and co-requisites, you can plan your schedule. Most college catalogs will also tell when courses will be offered, such as Fall of even years. This lets you know that if you don't take the pre-requisite by spring of the odd year preceeding the course you need, you won't be able to take it until the fall two years later. If you are confused (and it is easy to get confused about this), be sure to see your academic advisor early, rather than late.

Keep you college catalog the entire time you are in college, because it is a legal contract with the school detailing what you have to do to graduate. You catalog is your friend, because you not only have degree specific information, you have contact information such as addresses and phone numbers, and information about each instructor, too. It's not a bad idea to have two copies, one to carry with you, and one to keep at home. Reading the college catalog tells you about college expectations of student conduct, as well as general information about the college itself.

If you have not yet enrolled in college, be sure to obtain and read through the college catalog before signing up. The catalog will tell you what is expected of you as a student, what courses you can CLEP, how many courses you can transfer into the college toward your degree program, the academic policy to follow if you disagree with a grade, and much, much more. College catalogs should be required reading for all serious college students.

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