If you’re new here, I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this May after three short years. The college experience differs so greatly for everyone. I actually know a lot of students that have graduated early- by a year and a semester. On the other hand, I know just as many people (if not more) that will graduate after four and a half years. Everyone is different. Since graduating early is my area of expertise, though, I’m shedding some light on the possible pros and cons of graduating college early.
Pros of Graduating College Early
Obviously, I chose to graduate early for a reason. Graduating college early- whether a semester or a year- has definite advantages.
You’ll save money
Saving money is probably the number one reason students graduate college early. It’s no secret that college isn’t cheap. Even just graduating a semester early will save you thousands of dollars. How much you save will depend on tuition. As someone that moved home after college, I’m also able to factor in how much money I will save on rent.
You’ll start working sooner
Not only will you be saving money by not spending money, you’ll most likely start earning money sooner as well. That means you can start paying off your student loans and putting money away in your savings account. It’s a win-win.
Less competition for a job
This is something most students might not think about. If you are graduating at the semester mark, you’re not going to be competing with the majority of students that graduate in May. The resumes submitted to open entry-level positions are going to be much fewer during winter months. Take that opportunity while you can!
Cons of Graduating College Early
Up until this point, everything about graduating early has sounded perfect! Graduating early definitely can be great (I can speak from experience), but there are also a few things you should consider before leaving school too soon.
More money up front
When graduating early, it’s likely you may have to pay more money up front for summer and winter break classes that financial aid doesn’t cover. If you’re on a strict budget, this may cause trouble for your wallet and be seen as a negative of graduating early. If you can find the money to pay more up front, though, don’t fret; you’re still going to be saving money overall. Keep that in mind.
Less time to figure out what you want to do
If you don’t know what you want to do as a career, don’t feel pressured to pick a major for the sake of getting down quickly. Stay undeclared for a while. Take interesting, obscure classes if your schedule allows. You can do self-discovery in or out of school, but college has so many opportunities to explore between classes and clubs that it might be a good idea to stay there for as long as possible until you figure it out. Don’t settle. I’m sure you’d make it work, but you wouldn’t be as happy as you would have been if you’d found your passion.
College is stressful as is. Anyone going through college will experience stress at least once in a while. With a shorter time frame and just as many classes, it’s possible that graduating early could only increase the severity and frequency of your stress. It is so, so important to know yourself and know your limit. Don’t ever sacrifice your mental health or wellbeing to finish school in a timely manner. Put you first.
Less time to boost your resume
You have some extra time? Add a minor or certification to your resume if your dream job calls for it. It doesn’t matter if you already have two majors. If there is any possibility that an additional subject area will help you in your job search, I say take it! I considered this option briefly myself, but I decided against it.
You’ll leave your friends
It may seem silly to list missing your friends as a drawback of graduating early, but it’s true! More likely than not, after you graduate early, all of your friends will still be on campus, finishing up their degrees. I strongly advise against making any major decision solely based on your friends’ locations, but it is something to keep in mind. You may miss your friends and feel left out when they are out tailgating the college football games and relaxing on the quad together. It will be an adjustment and something to get used to.
There are so many benefits to graduating early. Depending on your situation, there are definitely possible drawbacks as well. I actually listed more drawbacks than benefits, but it all depends on how much weight you give each. For example, I didn’t have a lot of these drawbacks. They are just possible ones I included for you to consider and in an effort to be as completely unbiased as humanly possible. As I mentioned before, everyone’s college experience is completely unique to them. It’s up to you to decide if graduating early is best for you. Some people only need three years; some need four; some need five. There is no wrong way to “do” college.
I loved writing this post so much that I’m creating a mini series. Next post in the line up will focus on my own personal experience with graduating early. My story is only one of millions, but it will help you gain insight into the process, and, of course, I will be throwing in insider tips and inspiration. If you don’t want to miss my personal story, make sure to follow me on Bloglovin’ or Facebook!