Hello folks! Today i’d like to share with you a little tool that has helped me tremendously during my time as an undergrad. The four year plan can be done electronically or on paper and easily saved as a reference when it’s time to register. It is malleable, and will change with your changing course requirements or needs. Give it a try!
What is a Four Year Plan?
A tentative 4 year schedule which displays the electives and major requirement courses needed for each semester or quarter in order to graduate and obtain your degree.
- Displays all requirements in one place
- Helps you to remain organized
- Lists alternative courses to help during registration if you are not able to get into your first choice courses
1. Create a Spreadsheet or Table
The best way to remain organized is to have a a visual to display everything. An excel spreadsheet or word document can both be used. You can find a simple word table here or here, and a link to the excel document provided by my home school here.
2. Obtain Major Requirements
These are usually listed on your school’s advising website or on the specific major’s or department’s website. You may also find these by doing a general search on your school’s website for your specific major, or by calling or showing up to the department directly.
Below are two examples of where you can find the major requirements on your school’s website.
Some courses are offered all quarters or semesters, while some are only offered once per year. Figure out when your courses are usually offered during the year and add them to your spreadsheet in the semester or quarter you would like to take them.
3. Figure out Pre-Requisites for Upper Level Courses
After you’ve found the requirements for your major, the next step is to review the pre-requisites needed for your upper-level courses. Meeting with an adviser may be the most accurate way to ensure that you have all bases covered, and know all classes needed. You can also review the course catalog for your school for each of the required classes and make a note of the specifics. After you have that info, fit it into your document so you can tell which semester you need to take which course.
4. Add in your Electives
My school has a core curriculum where all students have to take courses from different subject areas, regardless of major, to complete their degree. Most universities have these core classes in areas such as science, literature, history, art and others. They may be offered in a tier system where you have to take two courses, one upper and lower; or you may just be required to take one; or some other combination. Check your school’s website to find the many electives from which you can choose to fulfill the core requirements. This is an example from my school.
Fit the electives into your schedule for the next four years. I think it’s important to take heavy major courses with light electives, and heavier electives with light major classes. This may not always be possible, but try to have an even course load to keep burnout at bay! While adding in electives, ensure your classes add up to the minimum credit requirement for your major and school so you ca graduate on time.
List any courses or activities like research or volunteering you would like to accomplish on it as well, so you’ll have a complete picture of how your time will be divided during each term.
5. Find Courses which Double Dip
It’s a beauty when you find courses that fulfill multiple requirements! Be on the hunt for these.
6. Be Flexible
Life never goes exactly as we plan, so be open to change. Remember that this is tentative, and can be changed around to fit the individual needs of each term. Always list alternatives courses just in case you weren’t able to get into your first choice during registration.
If you feel unsure about any requirements, don’t be afraid to email your adviser or drop by for a meeting to clear things up. Being prepared is the first step to success!