I am an extremely neurotic person. I live and breathe by my Google Calendar and always have to-do lists that span the course of weeks. Sometimes my friends get freaked out about how organized I am (for reference, see my article about my college binder), but I have simply found what works for me.
It should then come as no surprise that I have my entire four years of college classes planned out. I have mapped which courses I will take which semesters and towards which credits the courses will count. Crazy, right? Yet, in my opinion, every student should have some sort of rough outline of the courses s/he will be taking during his/her entire four years (or more/less) of college.
My reasoning is simple: statistically, 50-70% of college students change their major at least once in their academic career, and many change up to three times, according to the University of La Verne. Every major has its own set of specific requirements that students need to fulfill before they graduate, and these requirements, for the most part, vary from department to department. Thus, it is important to map out your college career so if/when you do change your mind, you won’t be stressing out about graduating on time.
I entered my freshman year with 28 credits already under my belt (study for your AP tests, kids!), so I was exempt from many of my core curriculum (aka gen-eds) classes. With that knowledge, I knew I would be able to complete two minors in addition to my major and still graduate on time or early.
I started as a Media, Culture, and Communication major with no minors. However, communication was not the only thing I wanted to study, and thus started exploring different options for minors. I was originally interested in child psychology, so I took a course for that minor. However, over the course of my first semester, I became more interested in pubic policy and education, and strayed away from my original plan. During my second semester, I decided to take the introductory courses for the education and public policy minors.
Although I enjoyed the courses for those majors, I came to the realization towards the middle/end of my second semester that I didn’t see myself devoting my life to either education or public policy, and I realized that I actually enjoyed learning about psychology much more. Furthermore, after a couple of volunteer experiences with Hispanic immigrants, I realized I had a passion for Spanish and missed speaking it all throughout my freshman year. Because of these realizations, I returned to my child psychology minor and added on a Spanish minor. I am happy to say that this year solidified my decision to minor in these two fields of study.
Having my four-year plan handy as I figured out my minors proved to be incredibly helpful. I never worried about completing anything on time because with the help of my advisor, I would be able to quickly tweak my plan to reflect my changes.
Additionally, it has helped me in figuring out when to take certain courses. In my major and minors, there are some really awesome courses, but they always fill up right away. With my four-year plan, I am able to work those courses into my junior and senior years, while also taking great courses as an underclassman. My four-year plan also helps me alleviate my stress when I am picking out courses for registration. I know which categories of courses I need to complete that semester, so I simply look for courses that will fulfill what I am looking for.
A Word of Advice
Do not make your four-year plan on your own. When I did, I made mistakes that I would not have realized if I didn’t see my advisor. If you decide to make a four-year plan, do it with your advisor so you know you are doing it correctly!