If it’s about organizing or planning, you have to know I’m there! I wouldn’t be where I am today without some thought-out plans and strategic organizing. When people ask me how I graduated from college early, they normally start out by asking if I took a lot of AP credits in high school. The answer is no! I took two AP classes in high school. That’s all.
Did I work some over time to graduate early? Yes. But more than anything, I planned like crazy. I was beyond intentional with every course that I chose. I’m not here to try to preach about the pros and cons of graduating early (although these organization tips can definitely be applied to help you achieve that goal!). Today I’m sharing the college planning tools that I used throughout college to choose the best schedule possible. Regardless of whether you’re graduating in three, four or five years, planning out your time in college will make the ride a little smoother.
Also, make sure to stick around until the end! I have an extra helpful goody for you all!
How to Create a College Four Year Plan
Reflect on Yourself and Your Goals
In order to create your best schedule, you have to reflect on yourself, your life and your goals. Everyone’s schedule is going to be tailored to their personal needs. If you have a part-time job or are a member of a lot of organizations, you may need a lighter schedule; If you like to hustle and be active and busy, you might be able to handle a heavier work load.
In the same way, if you know your goal is to get a double major and a minor, you may need to schedule heavy semesters and take a bit more time to accomplish your goal. On the other hand, if your goal is to accumulate as little debt as possible, you may want to finish up quick.
Know what you want for yourself and your life and know your personality. It will help you create a schedule that makes you happy and sets you on the right track to achieve all that you want to.
Meet with Your Guidance Counselor
I cannot stress enough how important meeting with your guidance counselor actually is. I personally wasn’t required to see my guidance counselor every semester, but I certainly still spoke with him. Meeting with your counselor reduces your risk of making a mistake that affects your ability to graduate. With a lot of different graduation requirements that overlap, are only available at specific times and require prerequisites, it’s easy to make a little mistake that has major consequences. Let your guidance counselor be a second pair of eyes to ensure your plan will work how you want it to… even if you’re not required to!
Make the University Website Your Best Friend
Seriously, visit your department’s website and then visit it again and again and again. Knowing your requirements, course options and class times like the back of your hand will only make creating a successful four year plan even easier. I recommend printing out and annotating and highlighting the page on graduation requirements, crossing or marking them off as you complete them. I also recommend checking future and past course catalogs to see if a requirement is only offered in the fall or only in the spring. This will help you avoid having to move around courses later.
Find Your Organizing Tools
And my favorite tip of all: stay organized. It’s so simple yet so, so unbelievably important. Keep a folder or binder with your important papers and put it away in a safe place. That way at the beginning of every semester, when you go to schedule your classes, you can reach for your folder and schedule your classes in a matter of minutes with (fingers crossed!) no stress or confusion.
To simplify and organize your life even more, I have created a college four year college course planner. The best part? It’s yours FREE! All you have to do is enter your email address and first name below, and the planner will be delivered to your inbox.
The template includes tables for each semester of your college career – including summer semesters if you need them. The columns include room for the course number, course description/title, what requirement(s) it fulfills and how many credit hours it is.
It doesn’t matter if you’re starting your plan the first semester of your freshman year or second semester junior year. Seeing your classes mapped out neatly in front of you is beneficial for every single student enrolled in a higher education program! Get organized now and enter your email address below.
I want to know… Do you have a college four year plan? What helps you stay organized in college? Let me know in the comments below!