I know we are still in the early stages of the spring semester and you don’t even want to think about graduation- even if it is coming up! But, now is the perfect time to start planning. Whether you are a freshman or a senior, it is never too early or late to think about your next steps. And, with that, comes a big question- is graduating early the right choice? I graduated a semester early, but I wanted to break down some of the pros and cons, and a few tips for graduating early in case it’s something you’re considering.
Know your stuff
Even if you are just thinking about graduating early, it’s important to get everything straightened out now. Is it even possible for you? Do you need to take extra courses during the semester or over the summer? Will this affect any major-specific classes? If you have a good advisor, schedule a meeting with them to see how you can work it out together. If you have never met your advisor, now is a good time to chat! Do this sooner than later, though, especially if some of your required classes are only offered at certain times.
To stay or not to stay…
One of the things that I often see as a deterrent for people considering early graduation is that they don’t want to ‘miss out’ on anything. I 100% do not feel like I missed out on anything. Every semester is fun in it’s own way! Obviously, if you are absolutely set on having a full 8 semesters, then maybe this isn’t for you. But know that you will still have a full ‘college experience’ even if you finish a little sooner than expected.
Another big misconception I hear is that you won’t have time to study abroad. I am living proof that you can go abroad for a whole semester and still graduate early (with a double major!). Many people use study abroad as a chance to get rid of a few ‘extra’ classes, but I sat down with the study abroad office, as well as the deans of each school, and made sure that each and every class I was taking would count towards my majors or minors. I walked away with a full 12 hours! You can have fun abroad and earn real credits, I promise!
Chances are, you are going to have to take at least one or two extra classes. I took 18 hours (instead of the usual 15) for two semesters, and it’s not as terrible as it sounds. I was busy every semester of college regardless of my classes. If you are totally against this, I get it. But these days, most students enter college with multiple courses already covered thanks to AP/IB courses, dual credit, or community college.
Look at the cost
A big factor for me in graduating early was the cost. I was saving so much money by avoiding an extra semester of tuition, housing, meal plans, textbooks, etc. that it was a no-brainer for me.
Before you start rescheduling your entire life, sit down with your parents and discuss it with them. Talk to your advisor or your dean and figure out if this is something that will work for you. Or, enjoy your full four years! And to everyone graduating this semester, good luck!