Four Year College Requirements

Applying to college in your senior year is an important step, but all of your high school years are important in preparing for life after high school, including applying to a four year college! This article includes more details about four year college requirements and the process to apply.

What is a Four Year College?

Often just referred to as “college” a four year college or university is actually only one type of college or education after high school.

At a four year college, you generally spend two years taking classes in a variety of subjects to help you find out what you’re most interested in and do well in. At the end of that time, you select a major, which is the subject that you will take most of your classes in.

Each major has it’s own requirements, in addition to the university’s or college’s graduation requirements. You will have an advisor in your major who will help you stay on track and work with you to help you get the classes you need to graduate.

Examples of majors include Business, Biology, Computer Science, Nursing, Psychology, English or Journalism, to name a few. One of the awesome things about four year college is that there are so many options and things your can study!

Some students also choose to have a minor, which is like a major but requires fewer classes. Generally, you can minor in the same subjects you can major in.

Once you finish all your college and university required classes as well as the ones required in your major (and your minor, if you have one) then you graduate with what’s called a Bachelor’s Degree. That just means that you got a four year degree. Woohoo!

After graduation you might be looking for a job or you might go to graduate school if your career interest requires more education (such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, university professors, school counselors, psychologists).

Who is a Four Year College for?

EVERYONE. Don’t ever let someone tell you its not for you because it IS. If you want to go to a four year college or university then do it!

A four year college is a particularly good choice for students who aren’t sure what they want to do yet, because you get lots of time to figure it out (and many jobs are looking for people with four year or Bachelor’s degrees, but they are flexible about what the person majored in)! The exposure to many different subjects and people is really helpful in getting a better idea of what careers you might be interested in.

Four year college of course is also a good choice for students who know what they want to do and know they need a four year or bachelor’s degree, such as teachers, doctors and business leaders.

How much time does it take to graduate from a Four Year College?

This might seem obvious (hello!?! Four years!) but it’s possible that it might take more or less time.

Some students who earned college credits in high school or decide to take summer classes may be able to complete a four year degree in less then four years. On the other hand, some students may take fewer classes at a time, or change their major and both of these might mean it takes longer than four years to graduate.

What are the Requirements to go to a Four Year College?

There are two different ways to get to a four year college or university. One way is to go to a two year college first and then transfer and the other is to apply directly from high school.

Two Year College and Transfer

Read more about the process and requirements to start at a two year college after high school here. If you choose this path, you will take two years of general classes at a two year college and earn a two year or Associate’s Degree. You then apply to a four year college to take the classes in your major and graduate with your Bachelor’s Degree.

Apply to Four Year College Directly from High School

To apply a four year college directly from high school you will need some additional classes beyond what is required for high school graduation.

It’s important to pay attention to the classes you’re taking in your junior and senior year, where you get the most choices.

You can learn more elsewhere on this site in detail about what you need to do your junior and senior year of high school to be ready to apply to a four year college. Some of the steps include:

  1. Make sure you take all the necessary and recommended classes in high school (all four years of high school) See this list for Washington’s requirements
  2. Decide where to apply (start Junior year, finalize Senior year)
  3. Take the SAT or ACT and have your official scores sent to your colleges if required, (not always required, check with the colleges you are applying to and take if necessary – spring of Junior year or fall of Senior year, or both)
  4. Write a personal statement (not always required, check with the colleges you are applying to- summer before Senior year)
  5. Apply for Financial Aid (October of Senior year)
  6. Apply for Scholarships (throughout Senior year, make a list Junior year)
  7. Request your official high school transcript (follow your colleges application deadlines and your high school’s process)
  8. Ask for letters of recommendation (not always required, check with the colleges you are applying to – fall of Senior year)
  9. Complete all college applications by the deadline
  10. Review all admissions offers and financial aid awards (April- Senior year)
  11. Make your decision by May 1st of your senior year!
  12. Make a plan to transition to college including attending orientation, where you will live and your transportation

By Jennie Flaming