How to Create a College Four‐Year Plan

Two Parts:Preparing the RequirementsCreating the Plan

Planning your college schedule can be, at times, overwhelming. There is a lot of freedom to make your schedule as heavy or as light as you want it to be, but with this freedom it can be easy to get behind and discover too late that you may not be able to graduate on time. By creating a four year plan, it becomes easier to stay on track to graduating on time. Creating a plan in Microsoft Excel or other spreadsheet programs can help you physically see whether or not you are on the right track to fulfilling all of your requirements and making the most out of your education.

Part 1
Preparing the Requirements

  1. 1
    Make a list of all of your general education, major, and minor class requirements. Note down how many credits they are, any prerequisites, or class standing requirements.
    • You should organize the list in a way that makes sense to you. For example, put all 100 level classes together, all 200 levels classes together, etc., so you will have a general idea of what year you will most likely need to take the class. You should also put all of your major classes together, minor classes together, and general education classes together.
  2. 2
    If possible, figure out which classes are only offered at specific times of the year and make a note of this on your list.
    • Some classes may only be offered during a certain semester or every other year. You will need place these courses in your plan first in order to ensure you fulfill the requirement.
    • You may need to consult a course catalog or meet with an academic adviser to find out this information.
  3. 3
    Think about whether or not you plan to study abroad, take off a year to work or intern, etc. If so, think about when you may want to do it.
    • Do you want to study for a semester, a year, etc? What year/ semester would you most likely want to do it? These are experiences that you may need to account for in your planning.

Part 2
Creating the Plan

  1. 1
    Decide what medium you wish to use to create your plan: handwritten on paper, typed into a word document, typed into a spreadsheet, etc.
  2. Image titled Wikihow instruction pic 1
    In the center of your paper/document, create a column for each school year, i.e. freshman, sophomore junior, and senior (or whatever terminology your college/university chooses to use for class standing).
    • Be sure to leave enough room in between each word for your lists of classes.
  3. Image titled Wikihow instruction pic 2
    Underneath each of your class standings, create a column for each of your semesters. This will vary depending on how your college/university divides up its school term. For the example, a fall and spring semester will be used.
    • You can also create a column for the summer if you plan to do a summer internship or take summer classes.
    • Now that you have set up a structure for your plan, you can begin to organize your classes.
  4. 4
    Input all of the items that cannot be moved around from semester to semester as easily. Highlight them so you will know as you are planning that these items cannot be moved.
    • These are things like internships, study abroad opportunities, and classes that are only offered at certain times of the year.
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    Begin to plan one year at a time. Play around with different arrangements. A picture of what the first two years of a finished plan may look like is featured above.
    • As you put down classes, be sure to put the amount of credits the class is next to it so you can be sure you are not above the maximum or below the minimum amount of credits your college has set for each semester.


  • Be flexible! Your plan may change from year to year because of circumstances like classes filling up. You should revisit your plan each year to make adjustments.
  • While you are planning each year, think about classes that may have a heavier work load. You may not want to plan to take a reading intensive class in the same semester that you take a class in a subject that is not your strongest. Think about how you can plan your schedule to your advantage in order to maximize your success.

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Categories: College University and Postgraduate