Making a Four-Year Plan

Pass 1 for Winter 2016 is coming up. Some of you may already have a beautiful schedule lined up and some of you may still be frantically searching for classes to take, feeling lost and anxious. Whichever individual you are at the moment, you should seriously consider making a rough four-year plan or revising one you already have. Creating a four-year plan can seem daunting, time consuming, and unnecessary; however, in the long run your academic life will be much easier with a pre-planned schedule. Think about all those pass times that you won’t have to stress over! For many of you, creating a four-year plan may mean making life defining decisions such as: Should I go to Medical School? Will I be taking a gap year before work? Do I want to change my major? Am I finally going to minor in Spanish like I said I would?  Our recommendation is: make a plan now and don’t be afraid to change it along the way! Here are some simple steps to get started.


  • FRUSTRATEDKIDTalk to An Adviser (Or Multiple) 

Not sure where to begin when planning your future? When in doubt, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your major adviser or come by during drop-in hours  to see a peer adviser. Trained professionals are available to give you the know how’s and the what’s ups to making an academic plan.

What about Double Majoring?

Finishing a double major at UC Davis requires tactful and strategic arranging of classes and definitely, lots of planning. When making a plan be sure to visit the advisers of both majors you intend to finish.

Thinking About Minoring?

Finishing one minor or even multiple minors is a great way to broaden your academic experience. Most minors require roughly 20 units; it’s also important to check for prerequisites and other minute details. For more information, talk to an adviser for the college or department you plan on minoring in.

Planning on Going to Professional School?NorthHall-Large

For many of you, applying to college won’t be the last time you needed to write a personal statement; find teachers for letters of recommendations; take a standardized exam; and ensure you fulfill all the prerequisites for your future dream school. This is where a four-year plan can really help you reach your professional dreams and make sure you fulfill all prerequisites, GE’s, and university/major requirements before you graduate. Applying to professional school is indeed difficult, but thankfully there are trained advisers available to guide you through the application process. Visit UC Davis’ Pre-Graduate/Professional Advising in 111 South Hall or go to 1011 SLB to talk to a Pre-Health Professions Adviser \

  • Make a List of Prospective Classes  

So, you’ve already seen your major adviser and you’re on track to graduate–Great! The next thing to do is incorporate interesting and/or relevant classes into your four-year plan. Exploring the General Catalog is a great place to begin, as it contains all the major/minor requirements, a list of all the GE’s offered on campus. Tip: The letters and numerals you see here:  QL, SE, SL, VL.—I, II, III. (I, II, III.) These tell you what GE’s the class fulfills and also the quarter that class is offered. (I. means fall, II. means winter, and III. means spring)                                                               You can also narrow down your search using Schedule Builder’s Advanced Options. Extra Tip: Jot these classes down into a planner or into your computer so you can access them later.


  • Sit Down and Actually Make a Plan planning baby

So, you’ve more or less decided on a career and have compiled a list of interesting classes–you’re ready to start planning! Be sure to allocate a time block of a few hours to sit down infront of a computer and churn out a four-year plan. Many students like to use Excel but we also recommend using Oasis‘s Academic Plan form.    Such a form can be found under the Forms and Petitions Tab on Oasis. When plugging and chugging the classes you want to take, be sure to consider a few things…

Fulfill Prerequisites:

Most upper-division major requirements have prerequisite classes, and it is important to make sure you’ve filled in all your prerequisite courses before putting in your major classes. Not having the right prerequisites could result in being dropped from the class or being unprepared for the course, so be sure to take a look in the General Catalog or on Schedule Builder for specific details.

Consider SS1 or SS2: 

UC Davis offers a large majority of major classes during the summer, and students tend to perform better in classes taken during the summer time. Instead of spreading yourself thin with multiple classes, you can focus all your efforts on one class! If you want to get ahead of your schedule or take a load off of your normal academic quarter, definitely plan on taking a class or two in the summer. It’s important to plan ahead so that you can talk to the Financial Aid Office regarding your financial needs or make vacation plans with friends and family.

Make Time for Studying Abroad: abroad

Did you know students can take BIS 101 in Europe every summer? This is just one example of the many classes and places students can explore with the Study Abroad Program. Studying abroad is usually the experience of a lifetime, but there may be a lot of hoops to jump through before actually going abroad. That is why it is important to have a plan, so you have time to prepare documents and figure out living expenses.

Whether or not you’ve decided on a future career, it never hurts to make a four-year plan and then change it as life goes forward. Life happens and your plans may be uncertain; however, a four-year plan may elucidate certain fuzzy details about the future, and set you on the right track to success!

Happy Planning!

Melissa Li                                                                                                                         Class of 2016  Biological Sciences, Emphasis in Neurology, Physiology, and Behavior                                                Biology Academic Success–Peer Adviser


Do You Want to Study Abroad?

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but memories last a lifetime. While I agree with this statement, I feel that it implies that we must either view the pictures or make our own memories and live the experience. Well, why can’t we do both! As a study abroad veteran, I can testify to the fact that one can be both a spectator and an adventurer. Studying abroad is something that I feel very passionate about and I am here to share the knowledge that I have with all of you, starting with a few misconceptions that people tend to have. **This blog is specific to the UC Davis Study Abroad programs. If you are interested in the UC Education Abroad Program, you can contact the UC Davis Study Abroad Office for help and information.


Misconception 1- Studying abroad is too expensive.

While studying abroad can be more expensive that studying in Davis, there are a variety of options when it comes to financing your trip. The first thing to consider is financial aid. If you are eligible for any type of aid (grants, loans, scholarships) during the regular school year here at UC Davis then usually your aid can be applied to study abroad. It is a good idea to visit the Financial Aid Office before studying abroad even if you do not receive financial aid to discuss and estimate how much aid you might be eligible for. The Financial Aid Office is located in Dutton Hall. Other options available to students here at UC Davis are UC Davis Study Abroad scholarships. These scholarships vary depending on which program you chose. Additionally, it is always smart to create a  budget for personal expenses and look at the cost of different programs when you are choosing which program to join. Some programs cost more than others,  airfare costs vary, and different countries can be more expensive to eat and shop in than others.

Misconception 2- I cannot study abroad because my major course load is too heavy.

A lot of students look at their major requirements and think that they are not able to study abroad because they cannot fit it into their schedule. While some majors may be less flexible than others, with a bit of planning, studying abroad is a feasible goal. The earlier that you begin to plan, the better. Take a look at your major courses and the prerequisites for the courses as well as any limitations as to when they are offered (some courses are only offered specific quarters). If you do not know what your major requirements are you can search the General Catalog to look at the different requirements. For students in the College of Biological Sciences, you can visit to view your major requirements. Once you know what your classes are, the prerequisites, and when they are offered, you can plan your quarters out with study abroad in mind. If you need any additional help, you can visit the Dean’s office for your specific college and meet with a peer adviser! We can help you keep track of your GE requirements and organizing your classes. Additionally, summer abroad is always an option for those who do not want to alter their quarter schedules.

Misconception 3- Study abroad will not help me with my major.

This misconception actually ties in nicely with the previous one. Study abroad does offer core classes for select majors. This way, you can study abroad and work towards completing your major requirements at the same time! For students in the College of Biological Sciences, BIS101, BIS102, and MIC101 are offered abroad. There are a variety of other courses offered abroad. One thing to keep in mind is that if there are no programs that offer specific classes for your major, you can always consider programs that offer classes that satisfy GE requirements, minor requirements, units toward graduation (you need 180 total), upper division units (you need 64 total), and electives!

Misconception 4- I won’t enjoy it because none of my friends are going.

It can be nerve racking to embark on a new experience without the comfort of familiar faces, but study abroad is a great opportunity to make new friends! Each program arranges a meeting prior to the trip so that all of the students can meet each other as well as the professor. Additionally, a Facebook  page and a group email is arranged for each program so that students can begin to socialize and maybe even plan to travel together for their trip! Also, the class size for study abroad is much smaller than the average class at UC Davis. Typically a study abroad group is about 30 people, so you definitely get to know everyone well and make close friendships. So don’t worry if none of your friends will be on the trip, not only will you make friends there but you can even make friends beforehand.

Misconception 5- I won’t get to visit any other places.

Study abroad is extremely flexible when it comes to personal travel. You are not required to fly there in a group or fly home in a group. Therefore, you are free to travel anywhere before your program starts, and once it ends you are free to travel to other cities or countries as well. Weekends are also great times to explore neighboring cities or maybe even spend the night in a nearby country. As long as you are present for required classes and meetings, and keep up with your coursework, you are free to travel as you please!

Misconception 6- If I study abroad in the summer then the class will only be four weeks long and it will be too fast paced for me.

While the UC Davis Summer abroad program is only four weeks long, you are able to get a more in depth knowledge of the course than you would during the school year. This is because your class size is considerably smaller (about 30 students) so the teacher to student ratio is smaller. Also, because you are taking two courses instead of three or four, you are able to focus on your classes more. Study abroad programs also have on-site tutors that are there to help you 24/7! They are UC Davis students who previously took the same course and excelled in it. Don’t forget that your peers are also good resources as well! With a small class size you will definitely get to know everyone which makes it easier to find a study buddy or form study groups.

Now that we debunked all of these misconceptions about the study abroad experience, I will go ahead and share my study abroad story as well as a few tips that I think will be helpful to all of you.

My experience:

I participated in the summer abroad program titled “Genetics: From Mendel to Genomes.”22254_14123_img2

I chose this program because it fulfilled one of my major requirements which is BIS101 and it involved multiple countries. I was able to visit Austria, the Czech Republic, and England as part of this trip. I attended school at the University of Vienna as well as Clare College at the University of Cambridge. My initial concerns about this trip were that BIS101 would be a challenging class and that I would struggle to keep up with the material. This concern was soon dismissed and I realized that help was all around me. We had two tutors on our trip who made themselves greatly available especially on the days leading up to the final. In addition to the tutors, the professor made himself available before and after every class and since we had class every day, there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions. Another concern that I had about this program was the price. However, as mentioned above there are many options for funding your trip. I participated in an essay contest through the study abroad office which awarded me a scholarship. I was also able to budget my spending money well on this trip because most of my meals were prepaid as part of the overall fee. My last concern for this trip was that I did not know anyone else that was going. I was able to organize a group lunch months before the trip started which was an excellent experience and helped me meet a few of the students that were going on the trip.

After writing about my fears regarding the trip I realize that I too was a victim of the common misconceptions that surround the study abroad experience! Hopefully this blog is able to steer you clear of falling victim as well! At the same time, I don’t want to give the impression that I was afraid of this trip because I was actually incredibly excited! I could not wait to go to Europe for the summer, meet new people, and eat new foods. My excitement was definitely warranted because I was able to visit world renowned research facilities, exchange awkward eye contact with leading scientists, make great friends, and learn a lot about Genetics. I definitely recommend this trip for those of you looking to complete your BIS101 requirement.

Before I end I would like to give a few tips to consider prior to delving into the study abroad experience.


1. Thoroughly research different programs and compare them prior to deciding on the one that you want.

2. Make sure to apply early because these trips are first come first serve (my study abroad trip filled up within the first week that applications were open).

3. You need to have a valid passport and a doctor’s approval for study abroad so make sure you have these in the works long before the due deadline for your application (your application will provide more detailed information about this).

4. Consider the differences in airfare for different trips because this is not included in the school fee.

5. Meet with a peer adviser or major adviser to see when a good time to go abroad might be.

6. Make sure you have the prerequisites for the courses offered abroad.

7. Try to get in contact with people that have already been on the trip that you are interested in and see if they have any tips for you. The study abroad office might be able to help you with this if you do not know anyone.

Hopefully this blog helps you get a better idea about study abroad and answered any questions that you might have about the program. I hope you all consider going abroad at some point during your time here at UC Davis! Take care.


Daiana Bucio

BASC Peer Adviser

3rd Year Genetics Major




Mythbusters: UC Davis Edition

Between university, college, and major requirements, plus prerequisites for graduate and professional school programs, it can become slightly difficult to keep the seemingly endless amounts of information straight. Incorrect information can often be disguised to seem true, and it’s easy to be misled or overwhelmed by a million different sources. Here are a few common myths that are in need of debunking – test yourself and see how well you know your stuff!




It’s impossible to graduate in four years.

It is absolutely possible to graduate in four years. In order to stay on track, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your major requirements, plan your course schedules ahead of time, and meet with a peer adviser or your major adviser if you need help. However, although it is entirely possible to finish your degree in four years, it is absolutely normal to take more than four years to graduate. It’s difficult to know exactly what you want to study right away – fear not; you’re not alone! Most students change their major at least once before they graduate. If you change your major within the College of Biological Sciences, a majority of the lower division prep courses overlap between majors, so you won’t necessarily be behind on prerequisite courses. Be proactive about planning ahead and taking advantage of the resources available to you!


All preparatory courses in series, such as CHE2ABC, must be taken consecutively and must be finished within the first two years before moving on to upper division courses.

Although a majority of the lower division preparatory courses are in series – MAT17ABC, CHE2ABC, BIS2ABC, CHE118ABC or CHE8AB, and PHY7ABC, these courses do not necessarily have to be taken three quarters in a row. For example, it is perfectly acceptable to take MAT17A during Fall, take a break from calculus in the Winter, and continue with MAT17B in the Spring. It just depends on the rest of your course schedule for that quarter and when you plan to finish the series. However, it’s important to pay attention to when each course is offered – for example, CHE2B is only offered during Winter and Spring. Therefore, plan accordingly! Continue reading “Mythbusters: UC Davis Edition”

Considering Study Abroad?

As students in the College of Biological Sciences, many of you are probably wondering whether or not you can fit some time abroad into your academic plan. You may not see very many major-specific courses offered, but don’t let this deter you! The courses you take may be used to fulfill general education or minor requirements instead. In addition, there are programs that are a year long, a summer long, or only a quarter long so you can choose one that best fits your schedule.

If you’re more of a visual learner, feel free to watch this video before continuing to give you a sense of what studying abroad is like.

Continue reading “Considering Study Abroad?”

Why Major In Evolution, Ecology & Biodiversity?

When asking students what they like about Biology, most talk about the human body: its physiology, anatomy, metabolism and diseases. Sure, individual health is important and quite fascinating. However, personal well-being is also largely influenced by the environment in which we share with other humans, animals, and plants. This network of interdependence and biodiversity is built upon the foundation of a healthy ecosystem. As we are beginning to see an increasing number of warning signs, our society needs scientists (you) who can understand the big picture and steer us away from catastrophe.

In short, Biodiversity is inclusive of both ecological diversity and species diversity. It would make sense then to say that Biodiversity should be important to us for more than just for an aesthetic reason. Each species of vegetation and each creature has a niche and plays a vital role in the circle of life. Plant, insect, and animal species depend upon one another for necessities like food, shelter, oxygen, and soil enrichment. Many of the processes that result from these interactions offer priceless services for humans for free. In fact, an estimated 40% of world trade is based on biological products or processes!

A discussion of Ecology cannot be had without Evolution, and vice-versa. Evolution results in organisms that are best-suited to survive and reproduce in a given environment. Put it another way, ecological pressures and conditions choose the direction of evolution via natural selection.  How does knowledge of evolution relate to our lives? Not surprisingly, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms is a textbook example of natural selection. Patients infected with a diverse population of bacteria are given an antibiotic that wipes out almost all the bacteria. However, if someone feels better and doesn’t finish the full prescription, bacteria left behind become resistant to the drug. Survivors then become the nuclei of a new, resistant population. Understanding this evolutionary process is an important focus of modern public health due to the increased presence of drug resistant bacteria in our hospitals.

A student working towards getting a Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity (EEB) degree would have a broad exposure to the fundamentals of biology and chemistry, similar to students in other Biology-related disciplines. The distinction lies in the flexibility of the program in designing a journey uniquely fitted to your needs. EEB students get to explore how biology relates to life processes — an incredibly diverse topic that includes everything from physiological mechanisms to interactions between organisms to the creation and maintenance of ecosystems and diversity. What are you waiting for? Make an appointment with an adviser today and find out more!

Wilson Ng
Peer Adviser, Biology Academic Success Center
B.S. Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Class of 2015