Ideas for Constructing Your Four-Year Plan

  • Freshman Year:

    • career exploration, begin developing real relationships with profs, especially your advisor
    • add extra-curricular activities as they interest you. Be truly involved.
    • make sure your community service choices are meaningful and relevant to your goals
    • keep up your grades

    Summer thereafter: 

    • summer school (here or abroad)
    • internship or volunteer work if you can afford
    • if you must work, look for a meaningful job were you will learn useful skills or try to work at night and volunteer during the day

    Sophomore Fall:

    • if a science major, applications for Goldwater scholarship
    • look into study abroad and internship programs
    • for some majors spring of the sophomore year is an ideal time to study abroad
    • consider a Boren scholarship
    • by now you should know your advisor or some professor in your major who functions as your mentor/advisor very well

    Sophomore Spring: 

    • finalize study abroad and internship plans
    • good times for on-campus jobs which are career related
    • make a point of getting to know at least 2-3 professors in your major so they know you well enough to help you and to write informed recommendations for you

    Summer thereafter: 

    • internship, career-related employment, summer institutes, study abroad or summer school
    • gather info listed during junior semesters if you will be studying abroad during junior year

    Junior Year Fall: 

    • applications for Truman, Goldwater, Boren, Pickering,  and Udall scholarships. 
    • make preliminary arrangements for your undergraduate thesis or inquire about a senior research project in the sciences.
    • search for and apply for summer internships. 
    • attend conferences and submit papers for publication. 
    • on-campus jobs should be career-related. 
    • Study Abroad

    Junior Year Spring: 

    • finalize arrangements and begin work on undergraduate thesis
    • gather and begin work on applications for Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright , Mitchell, Gates-Cambridge and other scholarships
    • take one part of the GRE, begin prep for LSAT, MCAT or other exams
    • attend conferences and submit papers for publication
    • on-campus jobs should be career-related
    • Study Abroad
    • education majors should inquire about student teaching abroad

    Summer thereafter: 

    • take second part of GRE, take LSAT and other exams
    • grad school search
    • prep for all applications
    • attend the late August HC Career Workshop

    Senior Year Fall:

    • Applications!!!! for all major post-grad scholarships, for grad and professional schools, for jobs
    • last chance to retake exams if scores were low
    • register for a very light load if applying for grad/professional schools

    Senior Year Spring: 

    • take synthesis course if not a student-teaching ed major
    • a good place to take required courses outside your major that you have been dreading or postponing
    • follow up on applications

    Summer thereafter: Varies widely. Grad students may want to start  graduate programs now to complete the masters in time to apply for following PHD admissions cycle in March.


    • study abroad 
    • community service
    • conferences
    • publications
    • internships
    • meaningful work
    • extra training - skills
    • extra curricular activities, but only if you actually made real contributions
    • tough, upper-level courses outside your major
    • competency in at least one foreign language
    • competent writer
    • critical thinking skills
    • actually producing something you can show them
    • undergraduate thesis
    • public speaking skills
    • connections! (personal and affiliation with nationally known organizations)