How I Graduated Early: 4 Tips to Stay on Track

Nov 30
After graduating high school, I did not intend to graduate college early. I took many AP classes, community college courses, and other prerequisites to prepare myself for school. I never expected those classes to be the reason I propelled myself to graduate college in three years. If you’ve also thought about graduating early or plan to because you’ve met all the requirements, here are some tips that helped me do it.

#1: See if any of your classes count for double credit.

At San Diego State University (SDSU), I found that many of my classes counted for multiple general ed (GE) credits. One class I took counted for three separate GE credits! Numerous GE credits pushed my degree forward the fastest out of everything I’ve done to graduate early. Taking the time to talk to my counselor and evaluate my transcript was instrumental in getting these courses approved.

#2: Consider taking a few community college courses.

It may seem counterintuitive to take a course at a community college when you’re paying to go to a four-year institution. Even at many public schools, it can sometimes be impossible to get into a class that you need at the right time. Community college courses are a great way to keep you on track and save you money if you need to take courses over breaks – you can even explore online classes. 

#3: Meet with your academic advisor regularly.

Meeting with your advisor is important for so many reasons. Your advisor knows the most about helping students find their path to graduate on time. Creating a lasting relationship with your academic advisor can help you better understand how to use your degree’s evaluation and put you in touch with organizations that can most benefit your future.

My advisor suggested both clubs and free tutoring opportunities that I otherwise would have never thought to do. While going back to in-person classes can be intimidating, your advisor is there to help guide you through this transition. For more support on the academic transition to in-person, check out our blog on heading back to campus and how to prepare.

#4: Stay on top of your schoolwork.

You’ve heard it time and time again. It’s especially important when you’re putting yourself on an accelerated track and taking more classes than other students to stay on top of your schoolwork. You want to ensure you have the best chances for success despite the extra work. As you get into your upper-division and major classes, taking those additional units will get more difficult than they were during GE classes. So, keep a planner, stay organized, and check in with yourself regularly to make sure you combat burnout

When I decided to graduate early, it was mostly for financial reasons. It didn’t make sense for me to stay in school another year to make money while working full time. But, there’s a lot of nostalgia about committing to graduating early, and some people may advise against it. Before I leaped, I questioned my choice. Whatever you do decide, make sure you are making the choice that best fits you.

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Ascent strives to provide you with the information you need to make the best financial choices possible, providing student loan support and financial wellness resources while you’re in school and beyond. Check out our articles to stay current on the latest tips and tricks to help you achieve your goals.

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