by Dixie Somers
The average college student completes a degree in about eight semesters of full-time study — that’s about four years. As you draw closer to finishing your degree, you might find other opportunities that are pulling at your time and attention. Perhaps you have exciting opportunities to travel, or promising job prospects that would require you to commit full-time. If you are ready to be done with college and get out into the world of working, there are a few ways to speed up the process, allowing you to graduate sooner. The following are some of the most effective methods for graduating early if you don’t want to hang around the college scene any longer than necessary.
Take CLEP Examinations
“CLEP” refers to the College Level Examination Program, a set of standardized tests for various college subjects produced by The College Board; that’s the same organization that provides the SAT. Passing a CLEP examination is recognized by many schools as equivalent to passing the course. Taking four CLEP exams could give a student a semester’s worth of credit.
Take Community College Courses
If you live near a community college, you may be able to enroll in courses beginning in the third year of high school. Students who benefit from a “dual enrollment” program are typically able to take two college classes a year. In some cases, taking three classes a year is possible. Two years of dual enrollment can eliminate as much as a full year of college coursework.
Take Online Classes
The beauty of online classes is that you don’t actually have to go to class—you can do the work on your own time. If you don’t have to commute to campus and spend a certain amount of time in class, this frees up more time to get work done. For example, some students getting an online bachelors in safety have been able to get credit for internships by working on job sites while still taking classes online. This gives them the experience necessary to graduate, but they can get double the credit since they don’t have to go to class on top of the internship—they can work on their degree from home.
Take Accelerated Courses
The majority of colleges are on the semester system, dividing the academic year into two long semesters with a pair of breaks between them. In these schools, the average four-credit course takes four months to complete. However, many schools offer accelerated classes during their break periods. These can help you finish a required class in as little as six weeks.
Take Advanced Placement Classes
Advanced Placement programs allow high school students to take some core college classes in high school. This differs from dual enrollment because there are no additional tuition fees. Plus, the roster of classes you can take usually focuses on “core” classes you would have to pass in the first two years of college. Advanced Placement typically eliminates a full semester of college.
Each of these techniques can help you save money and graduate more quickly. One way you can make college faster and more efficient even without these methods is by planning out all of your classes in advance by the end of your first semester.
Planning ahead will help you make sure you qualify for any prerequisite courses in your major. In many cases, classes you need to graduate must be taken in a certain order, so forethought is essential. If you need help getting your schedule arranged in order to give you the best shot at graduating earlier, consult with your academic counselor to ensure that you are in the right classes at the right time. No matter what method you choose, you can feel confident that graduating faster is possible!
Guest Post by Dixie Somers
This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write about business, finance, women’s interests, and technology. Dixie lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters.