How to Finish College Ahead of Your Class
Save money and launch your career early.
Colleges and universities may find that students are unable to finish their education with their graduating class. It used to be that if you enrolled in college, you graduated four years later. Today, many schools count it a success if you finish your education within six years, understanding that many students must juggle jobs and other responsibilities as they work toward a degree. Some students defy the norm and are able to graduate college early. Plan it right and you can finish college one or two years ahead of your high school graduating class, to start your career early too.
1. Take college classes — Many states allow students to begin taking college classes while still in high school. If you are 16 and are able to take one or two college classes per semester in addition to your high school responsibilities, you may be able to complete enough classes to leave high school with an associate degree.
2. Attend an early college high school — Some states allow what are called “early college academies” that are designed expressly to enable students to complete high school and college courses simultaneously. The difference here is that these schools are arranged so that students will have much of their high school learning behind them by their junior year. That leaves them to take college classes during their final two years and getting an associate degree or completing the first two years of college as they secure their high school diploma.
3. Transfer or continue — Depending on what or how you accomplish your college coursework while in high school, you may be able to continue with one college or transfer your credits to another school. For example, at Josephine Dobbs Clement Early College High School in Durham, N.C., students take college-level courses at the high school. Before they complete their high school requirements, they will need to apply to a college. If accepted, the college determines which courses are accepted and how many credits are awarded. Check with your high school guidance counselor to learn what early college classwork is available to you and the procedures you must follow.
4. Enroll and take classes — If you have already taken multiple college classes and those classes have been accepted by your college, then you’re already ahead of most other college students. To keep up your pace, take full class loads each semester until you graduate. You can speed up the process by taking summer and/or inter-session classes, enabling you to graduate at least two years before your high school graduating class.
Finishing college early is certainly not for everyone. Motivated students may find the extra coursework to their liking, but the danger here is over-doing the studying and not spending time enjoying school with your peers and developing your other talents. Taking classes while in high school may be free or come in at a reduced rate, saving students and their families tens of thousands of dollars in tuition costs and reducing or eliminating a hefty financial burden post-college.
- Bad Grades? You Can Get Into College. (saycampuslife.com)
- State OKs early college program (record-eagle.com)
- Selecting a College: A Checklist Approach (education.com)