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)