For those who don’t know, my college experience was very unique. I graduated a year early from a private university; and I was able to get my Bachelor’s and Master’s, and a minor in four years. I loved and appreciated my college experience despite the fact it wasn’t your typical college experience. I want to share why I decided to graduate early, and what advice I have for current college students who are considering graduating early as well.
I’m going to be honest. My decision to graduate early was not an easy decision, and there were many factors that came into play. I knew going into college that I could graduate early because I had a lot of college credits from high school, so this idea was in my mind from the beginning of my college career. But, I didn’t think I would want to graduate early because college is a fun and I didn’t want to cut that experience short, but I had many reasons for wanting to graduate early.
If you’re on the fence about wanting to graduate early, here are some things to consider if you’re questioning whether you should or not:
1| Is it possible?
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you can graduate early. Some academic programs are quite intense and rigorous with scheduling, lab requirements, internship requirements, etc. Make sure you consider all areas of your academic program. If you’re not to type of person who can handle six (or more) classes a semester, this might not be the right choice for you.
2| Find out the why.
Why do you want to graduate early? I personally had several reasons: 1. I knew it was possible. 2. I wanted to save money on my Bachelor’s and Master’s because I couldn’t afford to be in school for six years. 3. And I knew I could graduate early without feeling like I “missed out” on a college experience. Find out your reasons for why you want to graduate early as weigh the pros and cons of graduating in three years verses graduating in four years.
3| Make a plan.
I made my plan for all four years of college during my freshman year. I knew that if I was going to graduate in four years with two degrees, it was going to take conscious planning and effort. I planned all my classes for six semesters, which included courses for my B.A. and M.A. in addition to planning my internship requirements, when I would study abroad, what organizations I would be involved in, etc. Consider everything that goes into your college experience and make sure you write down a plan.
4| Stay dedicated.
Most people tell me that they have considered graduating early from college, but by their third year, they lose motivation and focus, and decide to come back for that final year. Don’t put in time and effort if you’re going to sell yourself short, and not follow through with your plan. It’s so important to keep reminding yourself of why you wanted to graduate early in the first place. Remember the money and time you’re saving, or any other reason why you’ve decided this in the first place. You got this!
5| Don’t overthink it.
I remember overthinking my decision a month prior to graduation back in 2015. I was done, and I was about to go on to finishing my M.A. in my fourth year of school, and I was overthinking whether or not this was a good decision. “But what if I don’t pass my Master’s thesis, and this was all for nothing?” “What if I regret not spending that extra year in school?” Don’t let the “what if” questions get to you because it’s not worth losing sleep over. Again, remember why you started this journey, and follow through.
6| Don’t let school take over your life.
I can’t tell you how many people thought that just because I was graduating early meant that I did nothing but study and focus on school. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I had a social life, I was involved in organizations on campus, I had internships, I blogged, and I took care of myself by getting eight hours of sleep, working out three days a week and giving myself breaks to relax. It’s so important to NOT only focus on school so that you can have a life outside of studying and working.
7| Don’t settle.
I think people settle on a potential job or graduate programs because they’re graduating early from college. If you have dreams to graduate early, but you also want to move to a big city and follow your dreams of working in a law firm—do it. If you want to graduate early, so you can have money to travel abroad for a month, or to start your own business—do it. Don’t let your current decision to graduate early affect the plans you set for yourself after graduation. Always follow your dreams and go for it.
If you’re considering graduating early, I hope this post helped answer some questions and gave you some insight on what goes into the process of graduating early. If you decide that this isn’t the right choice for you, that’s completely okay. But, if you do find that graduating early is right for you—Make a plan, stay dedicated and keep moving forward. I promise that the hard work and dedication will pay off!
Did you graduate early, or did you attend college for all four years? If you could go back, would you consider graduating early from college? Why or why not? Make sure to leave a comment below!