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The task

I, a high school student, wish to plan my remaining years of secondary and post-secondary school. (I am mostly concerned with high school right now though.) I am lucky to have so broad a choice of many doors open to me. But to make a confident choice with so many factors to consider is challenging, and I want all the help I can get to make sure I don't forget anything.

The requirements

I have a prioritized list of classes of interest. I want software that lets me:

  • order these classes into a plan, i.e., decide when I want to take them. For example, the grade 12 school year, the summer between grades 11 and 12 …
  • view and compare multiple plans. I must consider what post-secondary opportunities I want open and course rigour, for example, so to see multiple possibilities at once and to be able to compare them is important.
  • save these planning sessions for pausing and resuming later.

The software mustn't be designed specifically for charting one's path through high school. A more general piece of software that allows the reordering of lists of strings, and comparison of these lists against a set (summarizing their difference, e.g., "missing ELA12 and ECH11; ELA11 appears twice") would fit the requirements above. I could write strings for classes and for delimiting summers & years.

To discuss platform. I would prefer software accessible on a Mac, but I have access to a Windows computer as well. Software that must be downloaded and executed must be reputable or open-source. Web-based applications are fine.

What I've tried

I have tried organizing this in a plain text file and had some success. However, with dozens of classes and many places to put them in, I am worried that some error should occur; I may, for example, write the same class in two locations, or forget to position one. Another problem is reordering: to copy and paste is tedious. An ideal piece of software would thus ensure that each scenario contains the classes I would like, and allow dragging and dropping for easy repositioning.

My guidance counsellor has helped me choose which classes to take. As for when to take them, she helped me visualise a plan with pencil and paper. Compared to plain text on a computer, this method more visual, but harder to reorganize, and is still tedious to reorder. It is less susceptible to errors due to its visualness, but not absolutely safe.

More insights

A physical analog to the software I seek would be a pile of index cards, each with one class name on it, and a table on which to sort them, with one rectangle defined for each school year and summer. (However, software would be more convenient. I would nonetheless consider this if there are no better ideas.)

  • 1
    Welcome to SR. Sounds like you are taking things very seriously! Don't forget a card for fun, another for sports, and another for relationships! In addition to your studies, enjoy your life too! – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Mar 23 '15 at 4:46
1

GanttProject

Background

Gantt Charts are popular for organizing tasks in a project, with emphasis on duration, simultaneity, and dependencies.

For quick background reading:

(Click image for high-res source)


Software

GanttProject is software for project scheduling and management using the aforementioned Gantt chart and CPM. It enables you to:

  1. Create tasks and milestones
  2. Organize tasks in a work breakdown structure. (Hierarchical tree with progress, dates or costs)
  3. Draw dependency constraints between tasks. (For example, when a class has a prerequisite that you must take before registering)
  4. Set priorities and timeframes for each class/task
  5. Supports drag-and-drop

After inputting your classes/tasks, the program can automatically show you the critical path that you should stick to for the specific plan. Multiple plans have to be saved in different project files. They can also be exported into CSV format. The program does not offer automatic comparison between plans, but you can open two instances side by side and view two plans. Directly printing the timeline is also possible.

Other features:

  • Cross-platform (Windows, OSX, Linux)
  • Open source
  • Free of charge (optional donations)
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