whittier law school graduate sitting next to custom frame on floor

Is Graduating Early Worth It? 

There are a number of pros and cons to consider when figuring out whether to graduate early or not. One of the most significant benefits of completing school early is cost savings, especially if you’re in college. College is an investment and tuition prices aren’t dropping any time soon. By deciding your major early on and strategically structuring your class schedule, you could finish college a semester or even a year early and save money along the way. Completing school early saves you from paying semesters worth of thousands in tuition prices, extra fees, and textbook costs. 

This is also a beneficial strategy if you’re planning to pursue a graduate degree soon after earning your bachelor’s. Graduating college early allows you to enter the workforce sooner and gain valuable work experience ahead of your peers. This accomplishment provides a sense of achievement and can be impressive to future employers. 

Taking on an increased workload can also cause heightened pressure and stress. It’s important to make sure you’re able to handle the mental load of extra courses and fewer breaks from learning. It’s also possible to miss out on networking opportunities when you attend school for a shorter amount of time. By pursuing a fast track to graduation, there is a chance to miss or overlook other options, especially when it comes to majors or fields of study. Lastly, leaving school early or spending increased time studying can leave less time for you to develop meaningful relationships. When deciding whether early graduation is right for you, make a list of what you personally value and what your priorities will look like while in school.

three college students sitting around an outdoor table studying

How to Graduate College Early

If you’ve committed to putting in the work to graduate early, it’s important to know the best steps to take in order to make this dream a reality. Specifically when it comes to college, there is more freedom in structuring class schedules as opposed to high school. 

When planning to graduate from college early, one of the best ways you can get ahead is by entering with credits. Talk to your high school guidance counselor and ask whether your school partners with a local community college or place of higher education. Some high schools allow you to take entry-level college courses for high school and college credit, allowing you to enter college with credits already complete. 

If entering with college credits isn’t an option, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to graduate early. One way you can complete your general course requirements for your degree sooner is by taking advantage of winter and summer class sessions. Most universities offer expedited courses during winter break or during the summer months. Adding a class or two during these times can go a long way toward graduating early. Or, investigate whether there’s an option to complete extra online or community college courses that will transfer into your university and help you meet credit requirements. Also, consider taking an accelerated program if your institution offers it. 

Something that seems simple but can easily get away from you as life gets busy is staying on top of your degree requirements. There’s no worse feeling than making it to your senior year in school and finding out you don’t have enough credits or haven’t completed the requirements to graduate early. Each semester, make sure to sit down and look at class offerings for the next year to stay on schedule. Lastly, limit your course drops or failures to keep your schedule on track.

Graduating Early from High School

What are the pros and cons of graduating high school early? The benefits of graduating high school early include getting a headstart on higher education or entering the workforce, and it looks impressive on a college application. It also gives graduates the chance to take a gap year. Cons to graduating high school early include potentially missing out on valuable high school experiences and activities that you can’t get back, as well as the extensive self-discipline a full schedule requires. 

If you’re planning to graduate high school early, you should first make sure your high school allows early graduation. After that, make sure your schedule is always full. Take summer classes if available, and as attractive as senior releases or open class periods during the day might be, push yourself to go the extra mile and take another class. 

Early during your freshman year, sit down and map out all of your future courses with your guidance counselor to estimate when it’d be possible to graduate. Then, study hard and complete your future courses with that goal in mind. Taking AP-level courses or college-level courses when available is another way to get ahead and meet both high school and college requirements. These course credits can be transferable for college credit depending on the institute of higher education you plan to attend. Online classes are another valuable opportunity to take if offered, especially if your daytime schedule is full. Of course, make sure you have the time and space to handle adding another class to your courseload. 

group of graduates celebrating and cheering in gymnasium with confetti

Whether you’re planning to graduate early from high school or college, remember it’s important to stay as organized as possible and to assess your priorities often. Take time for yourself and incorporate time to take breaks within your schedule. Lasting hard work cannot be accomplished unless you focus on receiving quality rest as well. Check in with counselors and peers often, and be transparent about how you’re doing. Your friends and family want to help you succeed! As you work hard, it’s important to stay motivated. Post inspirational quotes, make a mood board of your goals for your room, surround yourself with friends to encourage you; find what works best for you, and stick with it! Ultimately, the keys to accomplishing this lofty goal and avoiding burnout are discipline and balance. 

After assessing these reasons to graduate early or not, take time to consider which choice is best for you. Talk with those who support you and ask them what they think is the best decision for you. Regardless of when you graduate, you deserve to celebrate the moment you walk across the stage and receive your hard-earned diploma. Make sure to frame your monumental achievement in a custom frame from Church Hill Classics!

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