How to Graduate Early From College

Learn the pros and cons of graduating early from university and get specific tips on how to graduate early from college.
Allan T
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Nov 18, 2021
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How to Graduate Early From College

Going to college is a dream for many people and is one of the best ways to ensure a better life for yourself in the future. College is expensive though and more and more students live with tremendous amounts of student debt. Graduating early has a lot of benefits apart from saving money but there are some downsides as well. In this article, you will learn about the pros and cons of graduating early from college, how to graduate early from college, and the impact of graduating early. 

Pros and Cons of Graduating College Early

You may think that there are only benefits if you graduate early from college but there are some things you have to keep in mind as well. Let's go over a list of pros and cons. 

Pros

The biggest advantage of graduating from college early is the money that you save. Estimates show that for the academic year 2020-2021 the average cost per year to attend a private school was $50,000 and the cost of in-state schools was $23,000. So graduating early can save you up to $50,000 a year.


Another advantage is that by graduating a semester early you apply for jobs during a time when there's less competition from other college graduates. Not only do you save money by graduating early but you start making money sooner as well in an environment where there is less competition. 


If you plan to continue your studies, especially in things like medicine or law, you are already prepared to spend a lot of time in school. Graduating early is an excellent way to reduce the overall time spent in school and get into the career you want sooner. 


Finally graduating early allows you to start becoming an adult sooner. This means having your own apartment, making a steady income, and freedom to do what you want with your time and money.

Cons

Learning how to finish college early may seem tempting but there are some disadvantages as well. Graduating early means taking on a very heavy course load which means that you will be working harder than your classmates. This can be very stressful and requires dedication and hard work. 


Fitting in as many classes as possible to graduate early means that there will be less free time for social activities and extracurriculars. It also means that fun activities like an exchange program are out of the question. 


You may have to take classes in the summer or over winter break, which means that you might have to give up vacations or opportunities to go home. You also won't be able to take electives and courses that you find interesting because your schedule will already be full. 


Graduating early also means that you may not be able to do a summer internship. Some jobs, especially in finance and advertising value internships highly, so keep this in mind when wondering should I graduate college early? 


Graduating early also means that you spend less time with your professors which might negatively impact any recommendation letters you want to get from them. 


Another thing to think about is missing out on college life. Graduating early usually means missing out on your senior year. The connections you make with people in university become lifelong friendships and can help you expand your professional network once you start working. Graduating early means that you spend less time with people around you and you miss out on fun social activities in college in your last year. 


Finally, student debt has a six-month grace period after graduation before they start accumulating interest. By graduating early you have to start paying back student loan debt sooner. This isn't a problem if you have already joined the workforce, but if you graduate early to prepare for grad school or to take time off to travel then this is something you have to think about. 

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How to Finish College Early

There's no big secret to how to graduate early from college. Just doing a few simple things and putting in hard work can make it happen.


This should go without saying, if you want to graduate early you have to take the maximum amount of classes you are allowed to every semester. Depending on the university this can be between 5 and 7 classes. Plan your next semester in advance so that you can take classes that are similar in the same semester and mix up difficult classes and easy classes so you don't end up with a semester that is absolutely monstrous.


If you're still in high school, take as many AP or IB classes as possible. If you score high on these tests then most universities will exempt you from general and foundation courses, reducing the total amount of credits you will need in college. CLEP tests are another great way how to graduate early from college. You can take them separately and if you score well enough you can get college credit for a lot of subjects.


Apart from your college or university, look into any community colleges close by. You can often take some classes at the community college that will transfer to your main educational institute.  Not only are classes at a community college cheaper, but you can also attend those classes at night or whenever you are free. 


A proper semester is roughly 16 weeks long but you can find accelerated programs that will finish your course in as little as 4 weeks. Find as many accelerated courses as possible and do them to shorten your total time spent in university. You can find some of them during normal semesters, but courses offered during the summer or winter are often accelerated. 


Online classes are another great way how to graduate college early. Online classes have certain specifications and guidelines you have to meet but you can do them on your own time.  This means you can take the classes when you feel like you can do more and work on your own schedule. 


Rather than make an intensive plan yourself, another way how to graduate early from college is to look into accelerated Bachelor programs. Many universities offer 3 year Bachelor’s degrees where they essentially take 8 semesters of classes and fit them into six semesters. It is convenient because you don't have to do any planning but the programs themselves are usually very challenging.


Some majors require more specific classes than others, whereas some majors might allow one class to count for two different requirements. It is vitally important to plan ahead and choose a major that you both like and also allows you to graduate early. Make sure you speak with an advisor or a guidance counselor and make a plan with them. 

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Impact on Grad School Admissions

The answer to this question isn't as straightforward as it seems. Sure, graduating early from college means that you can plan ahead and work hard but it also means that you aren't well-rounded. In general, how soon you graduate or your age does not affect grad school admissions - the most important thing is your grades. Some graduate schools take extracurriculars into account when making decisions and if graduating early limits extracurriculars, that might count against you. 


Generally speaking, it depends on the specific type of graduate program you are looking into. If you want to study international relations then spending a year on an exchange program will help you get into that graduate school rather than graduating early. On the other hand, if you want to get into medical school then graduating early will show your dedication and will make your application stronger.


Think about the balance of real-world experiences like travel, extracurriculars, and internships, versus academic achievement. Some graduate programs prefer one over the other, so do your research beforehand and make the decision to graduate college early or not. 

Should You Graduate College Early?

After reading this article you should know how to graduate college early. But at the end of the day, it's a decision you have to make for yourself. Saving money and starting a job early means you have financial savings in the long run but graduating early requires a lot of hard work and dedication. College is also a time where people have fun and make lifelong friendships. Ask yourself if you want to miss out on those experiences. Finally graduating early means giving up extracurriculars, internships, exchange programs, and sometimes even social life.


Think about the pros and cons, think about what is important to you, and ask yourself if you are willing to put in the hard work. If you ever need any help in college whether you decide to graduate early or not, Studyfy.com is one of the best platforms online for students. You can find tons of free resources for students on the website as well as find tutors who can help you with homework assignments, essay writing, proofreading, and much more!