Planning Your Degree: Resources for Discernment

Author: Sarah Price

Sarah 2

When I first came to Notre Dame, I knew that I wanted to major in economics. It was the perfect blend of math, social science, and business that I loved - not to mention the promise of job security right after graduation. While my degree has remained unchanged, college has made me question and reaffirm my post-graduate plans. These questions have, at times, forced me to actually sit down and plan out my degree. Through the constantly evolving process of class registration and adding/dropping minors, I have taken home a few good tips (in my opinion) that are valuable for anyone planning out their schedules for their time at Notre Dame.

Take advantage of your resources.

Notre Dame offers an incredible amount of resources when it comes to academic support and advising. First and foremost being your first year advisor or college advisors, depending on your undergraduate college. Second, would be other students in your major! Notre Dame has many academic clubs that allow students with the same majors or interests to meet throughout the year. This is a great way to get advice on future classes, professors, research interests, and anything else you want to know from those who were, quite literally, in your exact shoes not that long ago. has some gems.

There are three incredible gems at that I have used every step of the way to forecast classes and look at what some professors have been teaching over the years. 

The first of these is the Graduation Progression System (GPS). The GPS is what holds all your valuable information as an undergraduate: your GPA, NetID, NDid, and most importantly all the courses (or types of courses) necessary to meet your undergraduate, college, major(s), and minor(s) requirements. 

Second and third are the Course Catalog Search and NOVO (search within for access). These two sites allow students to look at what courses will be offered in the upcoming semester and going back a few semesters as well. I used this as a way to see what courses are repeated year after year and which ones are only offered during a specific semester. Using the GPS and course search sites, I was able to see which courses I needed to meet my requirements and credits, when they were offered, their prerequisites and/or corequisites, professors, class times, etc.

Paper and Pen or Internet and Excel…

Just like boomers say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." During my freshman year, I had a few sheets of paper in the back of my Moreau notebook dedicated to listing different courses that had been recommended by friends and club members. That way I could go back and look at those courses to see if I would be interested in adding them to my curriculum. All of these recommendations were then put into an Excel document I still have called Degree Progression. Sure, over the years new professors become my favorites and my interests have changed, but the core curriculum (non-electives) has remained the same. This sheet has also saved me so much time and stress when it came time for course registration.

Think about your end goal.

The most important part of any college education is what it is preparing you for. My major in economics is a great foundation for most jobs in business, research, government, and more. These could begin after undergraduate or after some graduate education. With one major, there are so many different paths and electives that work in favor of whichever path you may choose. The Center for Career Development is a great place to help discern your future career.

That being said, the greatest advice that I have is to ask yourself as you are planning your degree, "What do I want to do?" and "How can make my degree in ___ propel this?" If you don't have all the answers yet, that is more than OK. Take more requirements—especially University requirements that may introduce you to a new discipline entirely!