Most college students don’t complete their courses within the standard four years. According to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data, in 2020, 64% of undergraduates took six years to graduate.
Notwithstanding the statistics, it is possible to graduate college early and complete your degree in under four years. Graduating early can seem enticing, especially for overachievers who want to get out the door quickly. But it is a major life decision that has a ripple effect on your career and life.
Before you make a choice, check out the following pros and cons.
Pros Of Graduating From College Early
Here are the major advantages of graduating from college early:
1. Lowers The Cost Of Your Degree
One of the key reasons that many college students want to graduate ahead of schedule is to cut down on the cost of a college education.
According to the College Board, in 2021-22, a four-year college degree costs an average of $27,330 for students attending state schools and $44,150 for students attending private universities.
Graduating early reduces the time you spend in school, resulting in a lower overall cost. You can slash your college education budget significantly and save more on tuition, textbooks, room, and board.
2. Reduces The Need For Student Loans
By graduating early and slashing the cost of your college education, you can obviate the need for student loans. You will graduate with less student loan debt, making your loan repayments more manageable.
3. Allows You To Join The Workforce Sooner
If you graduate at the same time as most college students, you’ll face a highly competitive entry-level job market.
Other graduates will be vying for the same open positions, making getting a job quickly challenging. If you choose to graduate early, you’ll face less competition, which can help you get a job more easily.
Also, when you enter the workforce sooner, you can start earning sooner. This will help you repay any earlier debt, and you can start enjoying your life and building your savings or retirement fund.
Moreover, graduating early and getting a job quickly helps you qualify for student loan refinancing, as you’ll have a regular source of income. You can refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate or opt for a different repayment term.
Cons Of Graduating From College Early
While graduating early has many benefits for students, it also has some critical drawbacks, such as the following:
1. Tougher Course Load
If you choose to graduate from college in less than four years, you will have to take a tougher workload in college than other students. While your peers may take just three or four classes, you may have to take five or six to complete your degree faster.
Such a hectic schedule can make it demanding and stressful to juggle your coursework and other commitments.
2. Missing Out On Activities
Senior year of college is an exciting and crucial period for most students. Final-year students often get access to a greater variety of extracurricular activities in college. They also get more time to spend with their friends than those who graduate early.
They can also discover their interests in different fields by taking fun electives, which can guide them in their career.
If you opt for early graduation, you will miss out on that time with friends and extracurricular activities. You’ll also miss out on valuable insights into your interests and hobbies, which may reduce your opportunities to learn and grow.
3. Not Emotionally Ready For Post-College Life
Life after college is vastly different from college life. Once you graduate, you will have to start living your “adult” life, which involves many duties and responsibilities.
You may have to find an apartment, handle utilities, and cook for yourself. On top of that, you have to start looking for a full-time job and manage your schedule, which can be overwhelming.
If you graduate early at a young age, you may not be emotionally ready for all the challenges in life that adults go through. Before venturing out and taking on adult responsibilities, some students may benefit from spending more time studying, learning, and gaining experience.
Graduating early has its pros and cons. Make sure you weigh them carefully before you make a decision.