If you are wondering if you should graduate from college early, I have to start
off by congratulating you for even considering the question. Just thinking about this issue proves that you are a forward-thinking person. Believe me, for most of your friends, long-term thinking doesn’t extend beyond the weekend and deciding which party to attend this Saturday night. OK. Enough pats on the back. Let’s get down to business.
Graduating College Early – The Pros
1. You save money.
If you graduate (even a semester) early, you or the people paying for school reap huge financial benefits. You’ll save tuition, room and board and travel. That could easily add up to over $10,000 in savings for each semester you graduate early. If you are taking loans to pay for school, it’s that much less you’ll have to pay back. If your parents are paying for your college, it’s that much less they’ll have to shell out for you and it’s that much more they can put away for their own retirement. Also, it will mean you’ll have less college credit card debt. Nice.
2. You save time.
Obviously, the sooner you graduate college the sooner you get on with your life. You’ve had the college “experience” for a number of years already. Aren’t you ready to move on? And even if you aren’t, the reality is that your college days are numbered. The real world is closing in on you. Why not take the bull by the horns and ride out to the battle? You can’t delay getting out into the world forever. Get out there and kick some bootie as soon as you can. Saving time is a fantastic way to cut education expenses.
3. You gain valuable experience.
Graduating college early will free up time. You can use that time to land a great internship in your chosen field. You can even afford to take an unpaid or paid internship if you graduate college early. Sure you’ll still have room and board to pay, but you’ll come out ahead because you’ll save on college tuition. And employers will be much more impressed by your work experience than any additional class you take.
4. You gain life options.
If you don’t want to work early or find an internship, take the time and money you save and travel. See the world. Enjoy. Believe me, it will be more difficult to find three or four months free to do so once you enter the workforce.
Graduate College Early – The Cons
One negative point about graduating college early is you may have to attend summer school in order to get the credits. Also, you may have to take more classes during the year, which might make it impossible to work part-time. Finally, the extra classwork load during the year(s) may mean you’ll end up with a lower GPA than if you had devoted more time to fewer classes. Let’s see if those “cons” are really that bad.
The issue of summer school is reasonable, but you can do the math and see it’s smart to pay the extra cost. If you have to pay $4,000 for summer school but you save $10,000 and four months of your life by doing so, you can see that you have your answer.
In terms of having to forgo a part-time job in order to devote more time to class, the math works out to be the same. Calculate how many hours a week you cut back on and how much you could earn during that time. Then compare it to what you’ll save by graduating early. Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say that in order to graduate early, you’ll have to take a full load next year and won’t be able to work part-time at all. You figure that you could earn $4,000 next semester by working part-time, so that’s the cost of making this move. Again, you’ll give up $4,000 in order to save $10,000. Assuming you took a few math classes in college, you know what to do.
The last issue is grades. Your grade point average might suffer if you load up on the credits. This of course is impossible to predict, but I can tell you that employers are much more interested in your work experience than your GPA. And if you graduate early, that tells employers volumes about your work ethic and assertiveness. Those qualities are much more important anyway.
You can see that graduating early from college is a good choice for most people. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit by doing so.
The next question is how to get this done, but that’s super easy to figure out. Once you understand and are committed to achieving the goal, you’ll figure it out. Get your college handbook out and go see your school or department advisor. Together you’ll chart a course to make this happen. Of course, the sooner you plan this out the easier it will be to achieve, so get going.
What is stopping you from graduating early? Are there indeed drawbacks that I haven’t considered? If you are a college grad, could you have done this? Would it have helped you? How?
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