Is It Worth It To Graduate College Early?

Is It Worth It To Graduate College Early?

It's the end of my freshman year, and I'm ready to go.

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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.

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Dear Mom and Dad, You Don't Understand What College Is Actually Like In The 21st Century

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that.
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College is not what you think it is. I am not sitting in a classroom for six hours listening to a professor speak about Shakespeare and the WW2.

I am not given homework assignments every night and told to hand them in next class.

I do not know my daily grade for each of the five classes I am taking, and I don't know if my professor even knows my name.

College today is a ton different than how it was 20+ years ago.

I go to class for about maybe three hours a day. Most of my time working on "college" is spent outside of the classroom. I am the one responsible for remembering my homework and when my ten-page essay is due.

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that. I am a responsible person, even if you do not think I am.

I do get up every morning and drive myself to class. I do care about my assignments, grades, my degree, and my career.

I spend a lot of time on campus having conversations with my friends and relaxing outside.

I am sick of older generations thinking that us millennials are lazy, unmotivated, and ungrateful. While I am sure there are some who take things for granted, most of us paying to get a degree actually do give a s**t about our work ethic.

Dear mom and dad, I do care about my future and I am more than just a millennial looking to just get by.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Moore

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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