When I started college, I was already a semester behind. After graduating from high school, I took a one-semester break. Instead of accepting that I was 'behind' (in my mind, I wanted to graduate when my graduating high school class would graduate), I worked twice as hard. Learning that I would be able to graduate a semester early, meaning I spent only three and a half years in college, was extremely exciting.
1. Take at least 15 credits every fall and winter semester... if not more.
I took an average of 16 credit hours every single semester. This meant every semester was more expensive. Every semester needed more books, more supplies, and more time, than most other college students. Though I was studying all the time, I was able to keep a 4.0 GPA many semesters, on top of working multiple jobs and having a life.
2. Take summer classes...
Most summer courses are online, score! You can sit by the lake and be graduating early, sounds like a win-win to me.
3. Get to know the head of your department!
He or she can lead you in the right direction. They can also put you on the path to success faster than other academic advisors. Knowing your exact program, they know what you need to do to succeed as fast as possible. Get to know them! Meet with them at least once every semester and build a relationship so they can write amazing recommendation letters!
4. Actually take the time to study.
Crazy, right? Who goes to college to actually study? If you're like me, and want to do bigger and better things than solely graduating college then you'll actually hit the books. This not only means studying but taking the time to get to know your classmates, professors, and the content of your classes. Don't half ass it!
5. Go to office hours!
I am guilty of not going to office hours. Whether I have to work or am too tired, sometimes it is hard to make that effort. But, when you do it'll be so worth it! Building a one-on-one relationship with your professors can help you more than you know. Not only can they write you recommendation letters, but they can teach you how to do well in their class. Just go!
6. Surround yourself with motivated people!
If you surround yourself with people who don't care to succeed and have no big plans, then that's all you have to compare yourself to. Surround yourself with the go-getters, the people who are hungry to do better. Those people will push you to be your best self, and seeing them succeed will push you even more.
7. Set big goals for yourself!
If you're trying to be mediocre, this article is not for you. Setting big goals, hard to reach goals, will set you straight. Big goals mean you have to make big moves to get there. It's not easy, but you can do it! Think about how worthwhile it will be to graduate early, and be closer to those goals.
I have many goals. I like to think of it as shooting for the moon and landing on a star. My small dream is to be an attorney, the best attorney. I'd also love to be a senator or the President of the United States. We'll see.
8. Make, and use, a LinkedIn.
You should make a LinkedIn as soon as possible and use it just as much as you use Facebook or Instagram. Get a nice headshot, or use your senior pictures. Make connections throughout your undergraduate career and add them on LinkedIn. Keep it professional!
9. Do an internship!
Whether it is for your career path, or for a class, do an internship! This will show you what skills you still need and have already developed. This can be done during the summer, and usually, count for more credits than a regular class. It is 100% worth the time and effort, and looks good on a resume!
I did a summer internship with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and it was amazing!
10. Plan ridiculously far ahead!
After meeting with the head of your department, you should have a general idea of the courses you need to graduate. Plan out your semesters far in advance, so that you know where you need to pick up credits. Skip the 'advisors' in your program, as they usually end up taking you the long road to graduation!
If anybody can do it, it's you!