Understanding the general catalogue

by Lainie Fraser, Staff Writer

When the roughly 500-paged General Catalogue is handed out at orientation, it may seem daunting, intimidating, and maybe even useless. From personal experience, at first glance, it looks like a better dust collector than educational tool. Despite its appearance, the General Catalogue is a key resource provided to students at San Diego State.

“The General Catalogue contains a wealth of information about SDSU,” said the Associate Director at the SDSU Office of Advising and Evaluations Jane Mesa. “For a student, it is a valuable reference tool for graduation requirements, course information and university policies and procedures.”

Mesa explained that the most answers to common questions asked at the Advising Center can be found in the General Catalogue. Taking the time and effort to get accustomed with the General Catalogue will help everyone in the long run. The General Catalogue provides a description of each course, what requirement it satisfies, and what pre-requisites are needed. Understanding this can make planning for the next four years much easier. Regardless of how heavily the importance of the General Catalogue is pressed, some students still refuse to crack it open.

“My tip on how to first begin using the General Catalog is to start by reading and familiarizing oneself with the Graduation Requirements section of the catalogue,” Mesa said. “The 13 colored pages of the catalog outline what a student needs to graduate, so it is the perfect starting point.”

Understanding what is required to graduate in a timely manner can dictate the choices and progress of a student. With all of this information, it is easy to get lost in a book of this size. According to Mesa, the key sections are graduation requirements, major specifics, and if applicable, minor specifics. Focusing on what is crucial to graduate individually is what will keep a student on track. Within these sections, a student can find course descriptions, prerequisites, and enrollment and credit restrictions. Understanding what a student needs to take versus what a student wants to take is important for planning one’s class schedule.

Aztecs are fortunate enough to be given a multitude of resources when choosing classes. In addition to the General Catalogue, each student is given a personalized degree evaluation and access to MyMap. Each of these can help a student make an informed decision when choosing classes, but the General Catalogue provides the most in-depth information.

“The only mistake I can think of is not using the catalogue,” Mesa said.