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Tips and tricks

Look here for detailed information about:

Getting started

How to get started.

To learn how to use Graduation Planner, see the tutorial or the student quick start guide (or, if you're an adviser, the adviser quick start guide).

You should work with your adviser as you plan for your degree—click on his or her name on your Graduation Planner home page to find contact information. The Graduation Planner Toolbox also provides links to a lot of helpful information related to academic planning. Follow the link to the University catalog page for the major(s) or minor(s) in your "My Choices" list, and you'll find program information, links to the college or department Web site(s), sample plans (which are a great resource to use as you start planning), and "checkpoint charts."

Creating new plans

Make one plan, or several to compare.

You can use Graduation Planner to create as many plans as you like. You may want to make a new plan, for instance, to see what it might look like if you added a minor. Then you might decide to follow that plan, save it to consider at a later date, or delete it.

Mark a plan as your favorite.

Marking a plan as your "favorite" lets your adviser know that's the plan you intend to follow. (You can only mark one plan as your favorite.)

Read the usage agreement.

It's important that we let you know what Graduation Planner does and doesn't do.

Graduation Planner DOES help you make a plan for timely graduation and communicate with your adviser.

Graduation Planner DOES NOT: register you for classes, guarantee that you will be able to register for the classes you plan, or guarantee that you will graduate. You must work with your adviser or student services office to make sure you are making the best plan, declaring or applying for your major at the appropriate point, and following all relevant procedures. You must register for classes during the appropriate time in the registration queue. And, of course, you must satisfactorily complete those courses that you take.

Choose a campus.

When you're using Graduation Planner, you can choose a campus when you make a new plan. The default will, of course, be your home campus. But if you're thinking of transferring from one University of Minnesota campus to another, you can see what programs and courses would be available to you at your new campus. Keep in mind that if you have transfer credit from outside the University of Minnesota you should work with a transfer adviser to find out more about which of your courses will transfer and what requirements you will still need to fulfill.

Managing the "my choices" list

Select your "choices"

The "All Choices" list includes all majors and minors offered on your campus. Move the majors or minors you'd like to include in a particular plan over to your "My Choices" list.

If you can't find your major in the "All Choices" list...

Take a look at your APAS report, and see what your major is listed as there. It should be the same in Graduation Planner. If you have a question, please contact your college adviser.

What's the difference between "declared programs" and "other programs"?

"Declared programs" are majors or minors that you have officially declared, or that are officially listed in your record because you're a lower-division student preparing to apply for that major. "Other programs" are all other majors and minors at your campus.

Using the "What do I need?" list

Use the "What do I need?" list to:

Find out what requirements you need to fulfill to complete your degree.

Select a major or minor from your "My Choices" list and click on "What do I need?" A list of requirements will appear.

In a brand new plan, this "What do I need?" list includes all of the requirements which, according to your APAS report, you have not yet registered for or satisfactorily completed. The list includes general requirements (like the number of upper-division credits you must complete) and specific requirements (like the courses that are required for your major). After you have added courses to your plan that fulfill particular requirements, click "What Do I Need?" again to refresh the list. You'll see that the requirements you've accounted for in your plan have disappeared from the list.

Refresh the "What Do I Need?" list.

After you have added a few courses to your plan, click "What Do I Need?" again to see how the changes you've made have affected the list of requirements you still need to plan for.

Plan for a major and a minor, or more than one major.

You can use Graduation Planner to explore the requirements and plan courses for a minor or a second major or degree program. Simply add the additional major or minor to your "My Choices" list. You must then plan for one major or minor at a time, and work to fit all of the required courses into your plan.

Whenever you have more than one program listed in your "My Choices" list, you must generate a "What do I need?" list for each program. For example, if you have selected an English major and a History minor, you should start by running a "What do I Need?" list for the English major and adding courses from that list into your plan. When you're done, generate the "What do I need?" list for the History minor. This will list only the requirements that your plan doesn't already fulfill. You can then add those courses to your plan, or explore courses that might fulfill requirements in both programs, until you find a plan that works.

Remember that there are policies and procedures you must follow when you want to pursue a second major or degree program. Talk to your adviser for more information.

Explore Liberal Education requirements and courses.

Search for courses that fulfill one or more of your Liberal Education requirements by clicking on the requirement link in the "What do I need?" list.

The yellow +LE indicator tells you that a course fulfills a liberal education requirement. Click on the course number to open the course description and discover which liberal education requirement(s) it fulfills.

Find the name of a course.

You can either mouse over the course number or click to open the course description dialogue box to see the name of a course.

When requirements disappear from the list...

The "What do I need?" list shows you only the requirements you haven't yet accounted for in your plan. So when you add a course from the list to your plan, some additional text will appear indicating that you have "planned for" the course in a specific term. When you generate a new "What do I need?" list, the course will disappear from the list.

When requirements reappear on the list...

Once you've registered for a term, Graduation Planner no longer uses the courses you've planned for during that term—it looks at the courses you've actually registered for. So any requirements that are not fulfilled by the courses you registered for (but might have been fulfilled by planned-for courses) will reappear on your "What do I need" list.

If you didn't complete a course with a high enough grade to fulfill the requirement, that requirement may reappear on your "What do I need" list.

If you don't understand the list of requirements in the "What do I need?" list...

There are some general requirements, like University residency requirements, that should disappear from the "What do I need?" when you've completely filled out your plan. If they don't disappear from the list, or if you see anything else that just doesn't make sense, consult with an academic adviser. He or she should be able to look at your plan and your APAS report and let you know what you need to do to fulfill the necessary requirements.

Choosing and planning for courses

Learn about the courses that fulfill your degree requirements.

Click on a course in the "What do I need?" list to open the course description window. You'll find the course description, any prerequisites, the terms in which the course is typically offered, a list of liberal education requirements it fulfills, and (for courses that are required in your major) the "range" of terms and "best possible term" for which you should plan.

Plan for the best time to take a course using the "range" and "best possible term."

Click on a course in the "What do I need?" list to see the course description window. For many courses that fulfill major requirements, you'll see the "range"—the range includes the terms in which you should take a given course in order to complete your major on time. These terms are marked with green boxes in the course description window. Some courses also indicate a "best possible term," marked with a star. The "best possible term" should be your first choice when you're planning for that course. Try to take the course in that term whenever you can.

Plan for prerequisites.

In the course information dialogue box, "Prereq" is short for prerequisite—this is an earlier course you need to take or a requirement you need to fulfill before you are eligible to take a particular course. Pay careful attention to these prerequisites as you plan.

Add courses to your plan.

Open the course description dialog box by clicking on the course number in the "What do I need?" list. At the bottom of the course description dialog box, select the term where you'd like the course to appear in your plan. Then click on the "Plan it!" button.

When you add a course to your plan, it means that you'd like to take that course in that term. However, it doesn't mean that you've registered for that course, or that your registration will be guaranteed. Occasionally, courses aren't offered during their usual terms (because a professor is on sabbatical, for instance), or courses may fill before your time in the registration queue, or you may encounter course time conflicts. In these cases, you can use Graduation Planner to move your planned courses to a future term, or to search for other options that might fulfill the same requirements. 

Building your plan

Plan to take the recommended number of credits.

In order to graduate in 4 years, you need to take at least 15 credits a term—sometimes more, depending on your college and major. This recommended minimum credit load is marked on each term in your plan.

Compare your completed/in progress courses with the courses in your plan.

The "courses completed/in progress" display shows what courses you have actually registered for and/or completed. Completed courses are marked with a grade.

Compare the "courses completed/in progress" with the courses you added to your plan for the same term. If they're different, you may need to move the planned-for courses to a different term, or plan to take other courses that fulfill the same requirements.

Revise the items in your "My Choices" list using the "Manage my Choices" link.

To add or remove the majors or minors in your "My Choices" list, click on the "manage my choices" link that is right above the list.

Search for courses.

The "What do I need?" list is the best place to start when you're adding courses to your plan; these courses will fulfill degree requirements and keep you on track to graduate on time. But you can also search for courses using the search tab.

Find more planning help and information in the toolbox.

The toolbox contains links to a lot of information that will be important as you plan your academic career at the University. You'll find University catalog information, sample plans, liberal education requirements, registration policies and procedures, change of college information, links to collegiate and departmental Web sites, and more.

Use notes to remind yourself about internships, opportunities, deadlines...

Notes are for whatever you'd like to indicate in your plan that isn't included in the "What do I need?" list. So you can add reminders about internships or study abroad opportunities, or whatever you would like.

If you mark a note "private," your adviser(s) will not be able to view it.

Communicating with your adviser

Remember that your adviser(s) can review your plans.

Your advisers, as well as any adviser in your advising committee, can log in to view everything in your Graduation Plans except the notes that you mark "private." If you mark a note "private," your adviser(s) won't be able to see it.

Respond to your adviser's comments.

Your adviser can add comments to your plan; when this happens, you'll receive an e-mail notifying you, with a link back to your plan.

When you respond to an adviser comment, an e-mail is generated to your adviser with a link back to your plan, so that they can read your response (and respond, if necessary).

Adviser comments must be initiated by advisers, so you won't be able to initiate a new comment thread. But if you'd like your adviser to review a plan you've created, you can always contact him or her by phone or e-mail, or make an appointment and bring a printed plan with you to your appointment.

Find out if you need to apply for the programs you're interested in.

Your adviser is the best source for program-related policies and procedures. You can also review the University catalog pages, which list current program requirements and include links to the department or college Web pages, where you can find out more information. From within Graduation Planner, you can link to the relevant University catalog page(s) for the majors or minors you're considering from the Toolbox.

Reviewing your APAS report

What is APAS?

APAS stands for Academic Progress Audit System. You run an APAS report to track the classes you've taken against the degree requirements you need to fulfill in order to graduate. You'll see this report frequently as you work with your adviser.

Know the difference between your APAS and the APAS you run in Graduation Planner.

When you run an APAS in Graduation Planner, you have the option to include the courses you've added to your plan in the APAS report. So you can see what your APAS would look like if you register for and satisfactorily complete the courses in your plan. A regular APAS includes just the requirements that you have either fulfilled, or that are in progress.

Read carefully to see which courses in your APAS are "Planned-for," "In progress," or "completed."

In any APAS report, courses that you have completed are marked with a grade. Courses that you are currently taking are marked as "in progress," or "IP." In a Graduation Planner APAS report, you can choose to include the courses you have added to your plan (but which you haven't yet registered for or completed). These "planned-for" courses are marked with a "PL."

Notice that the GPA in your Graduation Planner APAS report isn't "real."

If you include planned-for courses in your Graduation Planner APAS, you'll likely see a GPA that isn't accurate. Here's why: When you plan for courses, we have no way of knowing what grade you might get if you register for and complete that course. So when it comes to planned-for courses, APAS assigns the minimum grade that you would need to get to fulfill a particular requirement--this is usually a C, averaged as a 2.0 in your GPA. To see your "real" GPA, view your Unofficial Transcript.

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