Keys to Graduating Early

Depending on the number of obligations you have, graduating from college on time can be a challenge. It can be even more difficult if your goal is to graduate a semester or a full year early.

Even if you are just beginning your college career, there are a few things you can do right now to make early graduation a reality.

1. Get a head start in high school.

If you are still a high school student, now is the ideal time to start planning if you hope to graduate early. This starts with choosing a college and degree program as soon as you can.

As you’re deciding on your program of study, check to see if your high school offers dual enrollment courses. These courses will allow you to earn both high school and college credit at the same time, and they are a great way to satisfy some of your college general education requirements.

Another good way to knock out college credits in high school is by taking Advanced Placement classes. A comprehensive exam is offered at the end of these courses, and colleges will often waive course requirements for students who achieve high scores on these exams.

2. Learn the degree requirements early.

Once you feel certain that you’ve found the degree program that’s right for you, make sure you know exactly what classes you will need to take to graduate and when you will need to take them.

One factor that is often overlooked is timing. Some college courses are only offered during certain semesters, so knowing when each of your needed classes is offered is key to avoiding delayed graduation.

3. Take at least 15 credit hours every semester.

Even if you got ahead of the game in high school, graduating early will still require you to push yourself every semester. This means taking no less than 15 credit hours every fall and spring.

If you are taking 15 credit hours and still feel like you’re getting behind on your graduation goal, you may need to take 18 or 19 hours some semesters to make sure you’re still on track.

4. Take summer and winter classes.

Though it may not be necessary every semester, taking summer or winter classes every now and then can ease your load during fall and spring semesters, and it provides you with another great opportunity to get ahead.

Overdoing it during summer and winter semesters isn’t a good idea, though. Taking one or two classes during these semesters is often all it takes to keep you on track for early graduation.

5. Get good grades.

Last but certainly not least, passing every class the first time you take it is essential to staying on schedule.

Retaking courses can not only put you one class behind, but if the course you are retaking is a prerequisite for any of your other required courses, you may find yourself falling much farther behind than you originally anticipated.

It goes without saying that graduating early takes a lot of hard work. However, with determination and perseverance, you will almost certainly reach your graduation goal.

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