Although college is set to be four years, more and more students are graduating late, often because of a lack of guidance. When I looked at my major requirements, I noticed the high amount of general education requirements (or gen eds if you will) needed to graduate. Additionally, a good number of the electives that I wanted to take required me to take prerequisites (pre-recs) that I had no use for.
The DARS system can be tricky to figure out, and it might be risky to take certain classes, but it’s not impossible to graduate early. By working the system, I was not only able to be on track to graduate a year early, but I was also able to finish my major sequence by the end of my Sophomore year, taking classes I wanted to on the side as well. I’ve found a few tips and tricks you can use to take the classes you want, ignore the ones you don’t, and possibly graduate a year early. But before you learn how to beat the system, you have several important steps to take:
- Set up a spreadsheet of your class requirements.
I know this seems like overkill, but by putting all the classes I needed in a spreadsheet, I was able to figure out what classes I needed to take when, and even if a class I needed was full, I was able to quickly figure out what I could substitute.
Now, it doesn’t need to be color-coded or filled with various tabs, but breaking down classes by categories (i.e. Ged-Eds, Electives, Major Requirements) helps create a balanced schedule, learn the pre-recs of each class, and help re-build semesters if you decide to add or drop a minor or certificate.
- Get Green Slips
The fastest way to get into any class is to get a green slip. Green slips are pieces of paper that an instructor can sign so you can attend their class. Professors at OU are willing to sign you into their class, if you can make a good case. For example, I wanted to take a 4000-Level Journalism class that had a pre-requisite. Since I had experience in journalism, I decided to contact the professor to explain to her how I had a good case. Even though it was a 4000-level class, I was still able to a pass.
- Talk to Upperclassmen
Other people in your major have probably figured out ways to work through classes, and they won’t be shy to share. Talking to upperclassmen not only helped me figure out which classes and professors to take, but also that I could test out of certain classes.
- Check which classes you can test out of or substitute
Besides Advanced Placement credits, there are possible ways students can get out of classes. For example, Scripps students that are required to take Principles of Reasoning (PHIL 1200) can waive that requirement with a math credit. There are also tests to exempt you from classes, such as the Composition Exemption Exams, which can waive your Freshman and Junior Composition requirement.
Some of your requirements can also be substituted. This is especially true with minors. For my Journalism minor, I was exempt from all but one class, so I could specialize in whichever classes I wanted. This just requires confronting advisors and department heads about the requirements for the degrees.
- Look at online classes
Online classes are the easiest way to schedule in classes, especially gen-eds. Almost every gen-ed requirement can be taken online, including your Tier III. This is a great way to take a class that seems like a burden, but beware – taking an online class can cause you to forget about the assignments. Otherwise, it’s a great way to finish some work during syllabus week.