Depending on how well you have done in developing your degree program in the previous three years, planning for senior year can be a breeze—or a disaster. However, even if you are new to the idea of taking academic planning seriously, there is still plenty you can do to ensure that you will be walking across the stage on graduation day.
By far, the most important part of your senior year is your MQP. The ways of scheduling your project are quite varied, depending on the type of project, location, students, and advisors. Off-campus MQPs last for about 1 term, and are offered at various locations. A typical on-campus MQP usually requires 1/3 unit of work in three consecutive terms—commonly A-term through C-term of the senior year. From time to time senior projects may run longer, extending into D-term. Any student wishing to graduate on time, however, must remember two things: (1) all MQP students must be ready to give their final presentations on the annual Project Presentation Day in April, and (2) the final MQP report, with the proper accompanying paperwork, must be submitted by the registrar's specified deadline (prior to the final day of classes).
If your MQP is on the right track, the next step is to choose your remaining ECE courses, which can be accomplished in many different ways. Some students select courses that will directly help them in an upcoming job or graduate program. Other students choose courses to supplement the topics they are covering in their MQP. Some use the remaining courses to expand their breadth of knowledge into an area where they are weak, while others use senior year to take those one or two 4000-level courses in areas where they desire more expertise. All of these approaches are valid; the important thing is to think critically about your academic goals, and choose a path that best fits your current academic program, while allowing you to explore courses that appear interesting.
Besides your remaining major coursework, your plan for senior year must include everything else you need to complete to graduate. For example, some students choose to do their Humanities & Arts requirement senior year. Also, do not forget the many other degree requirements that we have repeatedly mentioned—you certainly do not want to graduate late because you forgot a 1/12-unit physical education class! Be sure to have your academic advisor check your course plan at the beginning of senior year, to verify that you have not overlooked anything.