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Academic planning includes more than choosing next semester's classes. Your major(s), minor(s), General Education choices, transfer credits, study abroad plans, work and internship experiences, and desired electives can all influence what courses you take and when you take them, as well as when you will graduate from Bethel. Academic planning means looking at all these pieces together and determining some concrete steps toward achieving your goals—next semester, next year, and beyond. Below are some steps and tools to guide you through this process.

Step 1: Reflect

Reflect on your strengths and identify areas you want to develop further, and talk with your advisor and a career specialist to deepen your understanding of God's calling on your life. Over time, you'll develop ideas about how your career goals, your major, and your other activities and experiences all prepare you for the life you're called to live.

Choosing a major is an ongoing process, and many Bethel students graduate with a different major than they thought they would have at first. Check out our Exploring Majors page to learn about strategies you can use to find a good match. You can read about all of Bethel’s majors, minors, and programs on Bethel’s website and in the Academic Catalog for the year you entered Bethel. The website page for each major gives a program overview, possible job options, and a fun peek into department activities, while the catalog page for each major lists the courses and other requirements for that major.

As you make decisions about what major you want to pursue, be sure to keep your official records up to date by filling out the Change of Major/Minor/Advisor form.

Step 2: Review Your Credits

Make sure Bethel has a record of all your AP, CLEP, IB, College in the Schools, PSEO, and previous college or university coursework. Any college-level credits you completed before coming to Bethel can affect your general education requirements, and you’ll want to have this settled before you meet with your advisor and register for upcoming courses. See How to Check Your Academic Transcript for details, and remember you can you can fill out a petition if any of your courses are not transferring in the way you think they should.

Step 3: Understand Your Academic Requirements and Financial Aid Implications 

Before you graduate, you’ll complete required courses for your major(s), minor(s), and Bethel's General Education curriculum. You’ll also satisfy other requirements - for example, you’ll earn at least 122 credit hours, including at least 37 credits at the 300- or 400-level. The Academic Catalog for the year you entered Bethel holds your official list of graduation requirements. If you transferred credits to Bethel, you may also want to check your Entry Standing to confirm your General Education requirements and exemptions.

Your Degree Evaluation is Bethel’s record of the requirements you’ve met and still need to meet before graduating. Learn how to check your Degree Evaluation, and refer to it often as you and your advisor plan your courses each semester. Your advisor can also help you interpret your degree evaluation and course requirements.

An important aspect in financial aid rules that could cause your scholarships, loans, and grants to be reduced is called “Course Program of Study” (or CPoS).  It requires students’ financial aid to be based on credits that satisfy or meet their graduation requirements, or “program of study.”  Therefore, it is important to carefully plan out all of your semesters for your time at Bethel.

For more information about CPoS, please refer to this Advising CPoS Information page or the Financial Aid CPoS website

Step 4: Plan For the Future

You'll work closely with your advisor as your plan future courses and experiences, but the following tools can get you started:

  • Academic Plans in the Catalog: Bethel has created templates for each major showing how a student with no previous college experience could graduate with that major in four years. These plans are found in the online catalog page for each major (look in the catalog for the year you entered Bethel).
  • BU Academic Planning Sheet: The Advising Center has developed this tool so you can store and manage course planning. 
    • You received a personalized planning sheet shared with you on your Bethel Google Drive. (example:  2021-2022_LastName_FirstName_BUAcademicPlanningSheet).

    Take time to get your BU Academic Planning sheet in order to map out and sequence your future courses correctly, and comply with Course Program of Study.   Here’s a helpful video to get you started.  

As you plan:

  • Pay close attention to prerequisites and terms offered for both Gen Ed and major/minor courses.
  • Start planning early and talk to your advisor about Study Abroad programs and other options for off-campus study over January term (J term) or a semester.
  • If you plan to take courses at another institution (such as a community college class over summer), use the Transfer Evaluation System (TES) to make sure your credits will transfer back to Bethel.
  • Looking for deeper academic engagement? Check out our Honors Program
  • A Career Specialist can help you think through your calling and career goals and how they relate to your academic plan

Step 5: Talk to Your Advisor

If you've been planning on your own until now, it's time to bring your plans and ideas to your advisor to make sure you are on the right track. Remember, your advisor can help you at many points along the journey of academic planning, whether that's interpreting your transcript, helping you understand the required courses for your major, or identifying internship opportunities that interest you.

May God bless you as you learn, plan, and serve!

Looking for More?

Browse the other pages on the Advising Center website for more information about advising, course selection, reading your transcript, and more. If you have further questions, talk to your advisor or email advising-center@bethel.edu.