Thinking Big Picture When Navigating Through Your Degree
By Anna Sommer
Team Manager, Academic Advising at American Public University
Pursuing a degree involves balancing the ultimate goal, degree completion, with all of the small goals that contribute to it. There are three areas that all students need to keep in mind when trying to manage this balance: time, funding, and resources.
We all know earning a degree takes time, but the amount of time required depends on a lot of factors. For example, how much transfer credit can be applied to your program, if you decide to pursue a minor or certificate in conjunction with your degree, or what other work or family obligations you have in addition to your education. It’s important for you as a student to look at and understand how these areas can impact your education timeframe. It’s also important to ask questions related to time when looking to make decisions, such as how many classes you can take at once, deciding to add a certificate to your program, and so on. Taking a break may be necessary due to a military obligation, for example, but understanding how this plays into your overall academic timeframe will be very beneficial.
Degrees cost money and understanding your funding source is crucial in order to make paying for a degree a smooth process. After researching and selecting your funding options, take the extra time to research how those funding options work in detail. Is there paperwork needed and how often does it have to be submitted? What restrictions or guidelines does your funding source require regarding full-time or part-time status? If you need to take time off from school or decide to change your program, how will your funding be impacted? Considering your funding source when making decisions will help ensure your funding will not be negatively impacted.
Working towards a degree can sometimes give students the impression that you need to learn it all, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes knowing where you need to go to get information is just as important as having that information. Each university is full of information, assistance, and resources. At APU we have academic advisors, career coaches, online librarians, and much more, and we all want to work with you to help you achieve your goals. When navigating the details and working through decisions, reach out and see if someone can offer another perspective, a helpful resource, or just a listening ear so that you can make the best decision for you.