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Creating a Parallel Plan

What is a parallel plan?

 

Parallel Planning Image

 

A parallel plan is similar to what some people may call a "Plan B" or an "alternative plan."  However, a parallel plan is much more than that!

  • Creating a parallel plan is about preparing for all possibilities and making sure you are ready for just about anything.
  • It's about really getting to know yourself, your career interests, and what you'd ultimately like to get out of your undergraduate education no matter what your major is.
  • It's also about researching what transferable skills employers are seeking and the many different ways you can gain these important skills.

Parallel plans are not only for those working toward competitive admission in degree programs such as business and nursing. All students can benefit from parallel planning!  As your interests evolve and coursework progresses, you'll be prepared for anything!

Benefits of Parallel Planning

  • Reduce stress by preparing for all possibilities
  • Diversify your interests and options
  • Clarify and define your career goals in a more comprehensive way
  • Increase your understanding of the job market and what employers want
  • Identify your unique set of transferable skills and how to market them
  • Ensure that you are working toward a timely graduation

 

How to Get Started

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  • Identify your career-related interests, abilities, values, and goals.

    Ask yourself questions such as:

    • Why am I interested in pursuing (insert your top choice major here)?
    • What do I like most about my current major of interest?
    • What classes have I performed well in and what classes have I disliked or struggled with the most?
    • What specific careers interest me and why?
    • What types of work environments do I prefer?
    • What companies would I love to work for and what is my dream job?
  • While researching and gathering information about careers that interest you, take note that hiring managers are often looking at much more than just your college major (i.e. direct experience, internships, leadership abilities, certifications, etc.). It may also surprise you to find out that many careers do not require a specific undergraduate major.

    • To identify what is needed to enter your career field of interest, here are some suggestions:
      • Use popular job boards, such as Indeed.com, to find out exactly what qualities employers are seeking in candidates for job titles that interest you (i.e. workplace skills, educational background, and minimum/preferred qualifications).
      • Use informational interviewing and job shadowing to find out even more information about how those that are already working in the field got hired.
      • Attend career fairs and other career-related networking events on campus to speak directly to representatives from companies that interest you.
    • Learn how to obtain these skills and qualifications in many different ways. For example:
      • Meet with Career Services.
      • Participate in CAFE program and events.
      • Explore summer job, volunteer, and internship opportunities.
      • Get involved in student organizations and seek out leadership roles on campus.
  • Browse the Undergraduate Catalog for other Texas State majors, minors, and their requirements.

    Ask yourself which of these majors (and minors) might provide you with equally relevant knowledge and transferable skills to help you prepare for and succeed in your intended career path.

    Review "What Can I Do With This Major?" handouts for detailed outlines of marketable skills, possible work settings, and career paths for many different majors. You might be surprised that there are many, many more career opportunities than you may have previously thought in majors such as English, Psychology, and Communication Studies (to name a few).

  • Narrow down your options and begin to outline a parallel academic plan.

    When developing a parallel plan, there are several things you should be sure to find out:

    • Are there any common courses between my current major of interest and my alternative major choice?
    • What courses differ between these majors?
    • Are there any application requirements or admission standards that I should know about?
    • Does this alternative major require a minor?  Can I minor in something similar to my current major of interest or top choice major?

    And we get it! Parallel planning is not easy to do alone.

    UC Advising is here to help you with this!  Just call our front desk at 512-245-2218 to schedule an advising appointment today.

  • Knowing when (as well as how) to implement your parallel plan is the final step! 

    For those that are creating a parallel plan due to a competitive admission process of their top choice major, it is a good idea to establish when implementing your parallel plan may be best. For example:

    Let's say Charlie is an Exploratory Professional major working toward competitive admission into the McCoy College of Business Administration's Management major. Charlie may decide (with his advisor's help) that he'll work on the Management prerequisites for one calendar year, giving himself a December deadline to be admitted to McCoy College. If Charlie isn't admitted to McCoy College in December, he's not too concerned; he's done a lot of planning with his advisor and has selected a Communication Studies major with an Organizational Communication concentration (and a business minor) as his parallel plan.  Charlie knows that either starting in McCoy College or implementing his parallel plan in December will keep him on track for his four-year graduation goal, and that's really important to him!  He's also happy that he'll learn more about managing a team and developing interpersonal skills in either degree plan. Charlie knows that he'll build great management skills no matter which major he ends up pursuing.

    To implement a parallel plan, you will need to schedule an appointment with the appropriate advising center to declare your new major. 

    • You can find an advising center by major here.