Last week, to my delight, while registering for my fall courses, I realized that I could graduate college a year early. With hard work, a heavy course load, and meticulous planning, I could cram the rest of my college career into two years instead of three.
After this discovery, I was thrilled. As I slowly draw near to the end of freshman year, I'm satisfied with the extent of my "college experience." I'm ready to move on. If I could, I would graduate this year. Taking eighteen credits a semester and a few summer classes is a small price to pay for a full year less of school, right?
From researching online forums and talking to friends, I found that many students are drawn to graduating early for similar reasons. Additionally, for many, the money-saving potential of skipping senior year is extremely enticing. A Forbes article by Karen Hua outlined the financial benefits of graduating a year early. Hua wrote, "if students graduate in three years instead of the expected four, they will save approximately $42,419 at a private four-year university or $18,943 at a public in-state university. Currently, the majority (69%) of college students graduate with student loan debt, an average of $28,400 per borrower. The money saved from one year of private school is enough to pay back that debt with $14,000 left over – $14,000 which can pay for a Brooklyn loft share for ten months, or a new Toyota Yaris sedan, or 22,105 cans of domestic beer."
Judging by these figures, graduating early sounds like a no-brainer. Could there even be a downside?
When considering the possibility, I found myself worrying that I wouldn't have enough time to get a job lined up by graduation. But, as Hua wrote, "Even a year of traveling or 'doing nothing' will still not amount to the extra year of college fees."
Essentially, therefore, graduating early is virtually always a smart financial move. Your future self will thank you for it. But what about your present self? How can attempting to graduate early affect a student throughout college, even freshman year?
Currently, my schedule consists of a heavy course load, a part-time job, and essential extracurriculars related to my major. Sometimes it is draining; my health suffers from lack of sleep, and I have little time for fun or the traditional "college experience." To me, it's worth it.
For some students, it might not be. And, some students simply may not feel ready to leave the bubble of college life -- of not-really-adulthood. Some students might want to soak up every second of four full years of parties, weekend trips, and late nights at the library. But, for some, three years is enough.
While graduating early was an idea last week, it is a goal today. The challenge of it excites me and renews my motivation. I like to think that there's more to life than college and that my best days are still ahead of me. I enjoy college, I like my major, and, in two more years, I'm going to love my career and life after college -- and that means more to me than any college party.