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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: 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 2: Reflect on Your Goals

Before figuring out how to reach your goals, it's important to know what they are - and who you are. Your R.E.A.L. Skills Chart can help you reflect on your strengths and identify areas you want to develop further, and you can 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 Declaration of Major/Minor/Advisor form.

Step 3: Understand Your Academic Requirements

Before you graduate, you’ll complete required courses in Bethel’s General Education curriculum as well as your major(s) and minor(s). 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. You should be familiar with the Graduation Requirements section, General Education section (found under "Academic Information"), and the sections for your major(s) and minor(s) in your own catalog. 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.

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). Enhanced Academic Plans, which add columns for career and experiential learning steps, will be coming soon!
  • Electronic Planning Sheet: The Advising Center has developed this tool so you can store and manage planning information electronically. Click the link to go to the Planning Sheet, and don't forget to read the instructions for setup.
  • Your R.E.A.L. Skills Chart: While not directly a course-planning tool, your R.E.A.L. Skills Chart can help you identify skills you want to develop and choose classes accordingly.

As you plan, also keep in mind the following opportunities:

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.