Four-Year Graduation Plan
Developing a 4-Year Plan for Electrical Engineering
Detailed instructions are provided below on how to develop a successful four-year graduation plan. These instructions include everything from long-range goal setting to details on how to submit your plan for approval. It is IMPORTANT to note right from the beginning that submitting a four-year plan does not mean you cannot change your mind at a later date. If, for example, you develop a four-year graduation plan this semester and then in the second semester of your sophomore year decide you want to engage in a co-op experience, it is certainly possible to revise your plan. As you develop and grow through your years here at UMCP so too will it be possible for your graduation plan to develop and grow. Even though your situation might change, it is extremely valuable to plan ahead.
- Assessment & Goal Setting
- Review the Curriculum
- Review Benchmarks
- Review the Sample Graduation Plans & Road Maps
- 4-Year Plan Template
- Getting Help
- Submit Your Plan
- Deadlines & Approval Process
- Revise & Update as Necessary
1. Assessment & Goal Setting
The most important thing you can do before developing a four-year graduation plan is assess your situation and set some long-range goals. This requires you to reflect on your abilities and predilections, examine your values, and think about exactly what you want from your undergraduate experience. Being aware of what you want out of a situation and having an accurate fix on your abilities will make it possible for you to recognize and exploit opportunities.
2. Review the Curriculum
Even if you have already assessed your situation and established specific goals, you are not quite ready to complete a four-year graduation plan. You must familiarize yourself with the Electrical Engineering curriculum and degree requirements. The Overview of the Curriculum partitions the degree requirements into six main areas: (1) Mathematics and the Basic Sciences, (2) Introduction to Engineering Design, (3) Disciplinary Foundation of Electrical Engineering, (4) Required Electrical Engineering Technical Electives, (5) General Technical Electives, (6) Engineering Ethics, (7) Technical Writing, and (8) CORE (General Education Requirements). This framework will help you understand the structure of the EE curriculum and the nature of your requirements.
3. Review the Benchmarks
The exact courses you need to take as well as the sequence is further constrained by specific benchmarks. Benchmarks are requirements that must be met by the time certain credits-levels are reached, specifically, 45, 60, and 90 credits. The benchmarks exist to ensure you make satisfactory progress towards graduation. In building your four-year graduation plan it is imperative that you satisfy these requirements.
Of course, it may be possible for students with special circumstances to be granted exceptions to the benchmarks. For example, if you decide to pursue a double major in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, you will in all likelihood not be able to meet the benchmarks. However, working in consultation with advisors from both departments you would be able to developed a satisfactory graduation plan that would be approved.
4. Review the Sample Graduation Plans & Road Maps
Once you have examined the benchmarks you should look at the Sample Graduation Plans and Road Maps for Electrical Engineering. These plans and road maps will provide you with detailed guidance on how to develop your own four-year graduation plan.
As should be obvious, the first two years of the curriculum are very structured. Strict enforcement of prerequisites means there are very few ways to order and complete the lower-level requirements. However, AP and transfer credits may greatly affect the exact layout of your own schedule. Finally, observe how the benchmarks are met for the standard sample plan. (The plan that begins with MATH115 violates the benchmarks and would thus need special approval from the Associate Dean's Office.)
5. 4-Year Plan Excel Template
To ensure uniformity as well as timely review and approval, the ECE Undergraduate Office has adopted an Excel template. All students must complete their four-year plans using this template.
- Once you have brought-up the template, save it to your computer. (NOTE: For compatibility purposes we ask that you save the file as an Excel 2003 file, i.e., with an 'xls' extension and not as an Excel 2007 file, i.e., with an 'xlsx' extension.)
- Be sure to include all relevant AP and transfer credits.
- You must list all required courses exactly - ENEE2xx will not suffice for ENEE244 or ENEE3xx for ENEE380..
- Upper-level electives should be listed as ENEE4xx, MATH4xx, etc., as most students do not decide on their areas of specialization until their junior year. Of course, this does not mean you should wait until then to think about it. Thus, room is provided in the "Checklists" portion of the plan for you to list possible elective courses.
- You should not list the exact CORE courses you plan to take, only those that you have completed or are currently taken. Again, space is provided in the "Checklists" worksheet for you to list CORE courses you might want to take later.
- If you intend to study abroad be sure to indicate that during the appropriate semester. Remember, you do not have to decide on this now. If you are unsure or if you decide later to study abroad, you can certainly modify your plan.
- If you want to complete a co-op and know when you will do this, then indicate this on the form in the semester you intend to be away from campus.
- Make sure to check the prerequisite list to ensure you do not take ENEE courses out of sequence. The Undergraduate Catalog provides prerequisite information on courses offered by other departments.
- Once you have a draft schedule, you can use the registration worksheet to ensure you have satisfied all requirements.
- You should also check your schedule against the benchmarks before you submit it.
6. Getting Help
If you are having difficulty getting started on your plan or if you need assistance working out appropriate course loads, balancing your academics with extracurricular activities or work, identifying special opportunities, etc., then please contact the ECE Undergraduate Office to set-up an appointment with one of the professional advising staff. (NOTE: Please do not call advisors directly for appointments. The most efficient way to schedule an appointment is to call the Office at 301-405-3685 and explain that you would like to meet with an advisor to work on your four-year graduation plan.)
7. Submitting Your Plan
Once you have completed your graduation plan please submit it as an email attachment to:
Please be sure to include your full name and University ID. The Excel file should be given the following name:
For example , if your first semester at UMCP is Fall 2010 and your name is Susan MacDonald then the file should be named:
If you have any difficulty submitting the Excel file please contact the ECE Undergraduate Office.
8. Deadlines & Approval Process
Your four-year graduation plan should be submitted no later than the end of October. It may take up to two weeks before we are able to review your plan; so, the earlier you submit it the less likely your registration will be delayed.
Once the ECE Undergraduate Office receives your graduation plan, we will thoroughly review it. You will likely be notified within a few days (though, again, it may take up to two weeks) via email of the status of your plan. Typically, you will receive a revised plan with detailed comments. At this point, if you only need to make minor changes you will be asked to schedule an appointment to finalize and sign the plan. Having an approved and signed plan is one step to registering for your next semester. However, you will also need to meet with your adivsor again during early registration (for most first year stduents this will be some time after Thanksgiving) to have your register blocks removed. At this time we will check on your progress and make sure everyting is on track. To meet with an advisor during early registration you can either schedule an appointment or see someone during walk-in advising hours. Be sure to read all the relevant registration information and follow the appropriate steps including completing your mentoring.
9. Revise & Update as Necessary
As already noted, your graduation plan is not written in stone. It can and should be revised when necessary to meet your emerging interests and changing circumstances. However, this requires that you continually reflect on your situation, assess your progress, and make adjustments in a timely fashion.
Your plan is not a straight-jacket. It is most appropriately thought of as a framework for growth. It provides you with structure and guidance. This in turn will help you get the most out of your educational experience as well as ensure you graduate in a timely fashion.
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