Do I Need a 4-Year Plan Before I Arrive?

Summer Plans

It’s the summer before you start Stanford, many of your friends may have already started college, and you find yourself with time on your hands. Maybe you should start working on your 4 year plan, right?

Maybe, but then again maybe not.

What should I be thinking about before school starts?

The primary thing that should concern you before classes start is coming up, not with a 4-year plan or even a 3-quarter plan, but with an idea of the type of courses you would like to take during your first quarter as a Stanford undergraduate. And, for that, there are myriad options, any of which could be the right choice for you. There is also plenty of time to explore, and we encourage that wholeheartedly. Additionally, there is the marvelous possibility that you will surprise yourself as you transition from high school to university. It’s important to leave yourself space to become the person you are going to be and not lock yourself into any one mold right away.

There are fields of study at Stanford that you haven’t heard of, and, for some of you, these fields will become majors, passions, or even vocations. You want to leave yourself open to the serendipitous discovery of presently unknown interests and aptitudes.

If making a 4-year plan still appeals to you, by all means go ahead. There is no one right way to map your academic career. So make a plan. Make two. Make three if you like. Imagine all the possible pathways you might pursue. Just don’t laminate them.

And if making a 4-year plan hasn’t even crossed your mind, don’t worry, you are not alone, and you are not falling behind. Some uncertainty is natural at the start of an adventure as grand as this one is likely to be.

You are going to discover a lot this coming year, both about Stanford and about yourself. And you’ll have your advisors and peers to help you make sense of it all.

In the meantime, enjoy these last few weeks of summer, and we’ll see you at New Student Orientation!