Creating a 4-Year Plan

Hi Everyone!

Today I’d like to talk about how I’ve created my 4-year academic plan at Scripps, as a first-year student. Mapping out a plan definitely helped me out when deciding which classes I should take before the academic year started, so I wanted to share my experiences with everyone! <3

Part of the reason I chose Scripps is primarily attributed to the aspect of academic exploration that the Scripps environment embodies. We have the privilege to explore various fields of study before committing to one. In fact, all first-years are technically undeclared (I say technically because while you’re officially undeclared, many first-year students still like to express specific majors they’re interested in studying). As a first-year student, I am eligible to take whatever class interests me and am free to explore these interests of mine. However, it’s still important to keep in mind that students must fulfill graduation requirements in the form of general education requirements and major requirements.

While I’m all about spontaneity, sometimes I just want to have some control over my life, and part of that includes making a 4-year plan for my upcoming years at Scripps.

To start off, I researched what Scripps’ graduation requirements are. These requirements include three semesters of the Core curriculum, breadth of study (fine arts, letters, natural sciences, and social sciences), race and ethnic studies, gender and women’s studies, foreign language competency (3 years of a foreign language), and a mathematics competency. On top of these requirements, Scripps requires a student to take 32.0 credits worth of classes and have at least one major (with a senior thesis) in order to graduate. Scripps allows students to dismiss up to 4.0 credits if you’ve taken 4 AP tests (with a score of 4 or 5) along with their respective AP classes.

Before school started, I tried to knock off as many general education requirements as I could, so I took a Scripps book arts class over the summer to fulfill my fine arts requirement (note: summer classes at Scripps are not typically offered), took the foreign language placement test, and the mathematics placement test. Through this, I was able to knock off 3 requirements off my list. Interestingly enough, although I took the book arts class to fulfill my fine arts requirement, that class ended up inspiring me to pursue a minor in art.

Obviously, in order to graduate, I’m required to major in something, so I looked through majors that interested me and ultimately decided that I wanted to do something related to the sciences. To make things easier, I decided to stick with the major biochemistry as my template. My decision to major in biochemistry is undoubtedly subject to change, but I wanted to get a vague idea of what my potential classes might look like for the next 4 years.

Onto the construction of a tangible 4-year plan, I created an excel spreadsheet and began adding the classes that I’m required to take as a biochemistry major, art minor, and to fulfill my general education requirements. When looking at courses for biochemistry, I found a list of all the courses I am required to take on the Scripps catalog and consulted a few faculty members to figure out what sequence I should take the classes in. It’s important to note that many of the upper-division classes you’re required to take have prerequisites in the form of other introductory classes. For instance, in order to take organic chemistry classes, I must take the introductory chemistry classes first. Then, when looking at courses to fulfill my general education requirements, I tried to find courses that would overlap with my art minor requirements. For instance, as an art minor, I’m required to take 1 art history course and 5 art courses. Art history satisfies my “letters” general education requirement and any art course satisfies my “fine arts” general education requirement. In many ways, I was able to kill two birds with one stone by fulfilling both my general education requirements and art minor requirements through a singular course.

Creating a 4-year plan is a completely optional project that students can do, but I’ve found it super helpful when deciding what classes I should register for as a first-year student. Again, interests are certainly subject to change and it is totally okay for a student to not follow the 4-year plan that they made earlier. Nothing is set-in-stone, and we definitely encourage academic exploration here at Scripps!

If you have more questions about creating a 4-year plan, or if you’d like to see my own 4-year plan, please email me at

Take care!