Cal Poly COSAM, College of Science and Math, has some recommendations for graduating in four years. Here are some edits for reality. I was a chemistry and biochemistry double major at Cal Poly, got into medical school, then transferred out to do my PhD in Environmental Chemistry. If you want to succeed in college, read carefully.

Part 1

Original post is at

First Year

  • Meet with your academic advisor before registration for each quarter. Be sure to understand your degree requirements for your major and the expected academic progress requirements.

What you will find out soon is that the classes you need are either hard to fit into your schedule or impossible, forcing you to wait a year. Chances are, you are going to be a 2nd or 3rd year “senior.”

  • Join a club in an area of interest through the ASI website.

Ya, definitely do that. I’d recommend an academic club so you can bond and make friends in your major, rely on each other for help with classes. I’d recommend Alpha Chi Sigma for the Chemistry Department, for example, but it’s pretty much a social club. Chemists go nuts because they can finally drink their experiments.

Career Services? Hit and miss, mostly miss.

  • Attend a Resume/Cover Letter Workshop given by Career Services.

Don’t bother. Just go online and find a good resume. Copy and paste onto their format. Just don’t misspell stuff.

  • Begin to work on your resume.

Don’t lie on your resume but definitely exaggerate. Make yourself sound like you were indispensable even if you were merely the lab rat. Definitely make that resume as you go to remember important details, just save a copy of the original. If you exaggerate on a previous exaggeration you won’t know what you actually did.

  • Research and apply for a summer job or internship. Internship deadlines are usually between January and March, so start thinking about this in Fall or early Winter quarter.

Note to the wise, if you can’t find a paid internship get a volunteer position. Professors love students who say “Can I work for free?” Then earn your way into a job or just take the Letter of Recommendation and run.

  • If interested in Study Abroad: Start planning early (at least six to nine months in advance). Determine your academic goals and financial needs for study abroad. Attend a mandatory Study Abroad 101 Workshop. Go to ‘Find a Program’ on the Study Abroad website to explore program options.

Sure, you could do that. I wouldn’t waste the precious time you need to graduate within 6 years. Save the time, skip Europe, take summer classes to “get ahead”, and make a quick trip to Tijuana if you can avoid the cartels.

  • If you are interested in a health profession, start gaining experience in your chosen field. Consult with a Health Professions Peer Advisor in Building 53, Room 211 who can provide you with advice on course prerequisites and validation of your application timeline. Check out the Health Professions website.

Okay, ya, definitely do that. You can also just approach local doctors yourself though, to get a “preceptorship.” I followed around a plastic surgeon and later a urologist. Got to see boobs and weiners. It was awesome!

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