Graduating college early is not for everyone. Most students need to the full four years, or even five, to complete their education. But for those who have amassed enough credits and have fulfilled their general education and major requirements, there are some reasons for finishing a semester or even a year early. Here are some of the reasons:
One of the biggest reasons for graduating in less than four years is to save the cost of tuition and housing.
The cost of college can put a grave strain on a family’s finances or rack up future debt for the student. By graduating early a student can ease this economic burden and save tens of thousands of dollars.
Getting to the Job Market Sooner
In addition to saving on tuition a student who graduates college early can begin earning early. Instead of spending tuition dollars in what would have been their senior year, early graduates can begin earning an income.
Interviewing Off Season
In the fall of senior year, there is a big rush to the job market for students graduating in May and June. Students who finish college early and are ready for the job market in January may find themselves competing in a less crowded field.
Applying to Graduate or Professional School
Students finishing their bachelor's degrees early who plan to apply to graduate or professional school will have more time to prepare for their entrance exams and complete their applications and any interviews that the process requires.
Get a Break
Many colleges graduate their students in May or June. Full-time jobs for these students sometimes begin only a few weeks later. By graduating early, students give themselves time for a break, perhaps some travel or time with their families or potentially a useful internship. Once students enter the job market they may have very little vacation time in their new position and graduating early may give them the last block of free time they will have for perhaps many years.
Shorten a Very Long Road
For students planning to go on to professional or graduate school, particularly medical school, there are many years of schooling ahead. Graduating early offers a break and chance to do something else for a period of time in what is a very long academic journey.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
These are all good reasons for graduating college early yet while explaining how their students can graduate early, Duke University offers an alternative view, “Bear in mind that your college years come at a special time in your life and are a rare opportunity for you to engage so freely and intensely in your development, intellectual and otherwise. Think twice before cutting your Duke career short. As an alternative to graduating early, even if you are eligible to do so, you might think about enriching your experience by taking a semester to travel or study abroad.”
Sue Shellenbarger, in an article exploring early college graduation for the Wall Street Journal, explains that she regrets her decision to graduate in less than four years and explains, “I went through undergrad school in three and a half years, and I wish now I had done more extracurricular activities and had a little more fun.
Our working lives are decades long, and I constantly tell my own two college students that their university days offer an opportunity for reflection and exploration."
The one thing early graduates don't need to worry about missing? The graduation ceremony with their class, Most colleges (and any student considering and early graduation should check with their school) are delighted to have early graduates partake in all of the year end graduation festivities.