Graduating College Early – Is It Worth It?

Graduating from college early surely isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t something that some people would even remotely want. Some undergrads embrace living away from home and the party lifestyle, and they never want to leave. But, that isn’t the situation for plenty students just trying to get good grades and make their way through.

You already know that I spent my first year of college away from home. And you already know that I moved back home after two semesters of struggling emotionally. When I moved back, I really kicked things into gear. My attitude, my goals, and my work ethic completely changed. I was no longer a college student that wanted to drink all night and find that perfect group of friends to go to house parties with. I was now 19 years old, commuting over an hour multiple times a week to a very small campus that was more like a small town high school than a university. I was accepted to this school before I had even moved back home, so I never got the chance to visit the campus. I really just needed a reputable school to finish my degree at, and the pictures online convinced me that this school would be the place. Once I officially moved back, I went in to meet my advisor. As soon as I saw the campus in person, I knew that this was somewhere I was not going to want to be for a long time. Later that day, I printed out my degree plan and registered for summer courses at the local community college would transfer in. I entered school a semester ahead than most sophomores, and I went to school full time the next summer, allowing me to graduate one year early.

I never found my place at this school. I met lots of nice people, but at a school so small, people have their friend groups after freshman year. I met one of my best friends there, I learned a lot about myself (socially and academically), and I pushed myself to extreme limits taking on average 18-22 credit hours each semester. During one of my many meltdowns caused by being overwhelmed with coursework, my dad asked, “How does this benefit you? I know you want to be done one year early, but how does this help you in the long run?”. For me, graduating early was more about a personal achievement than something to put down on a resume. I learned how to time manage, handle myself in extremely stressful situations, and stay extremely focused. Making real money and moving onto my next educational step was always a huge priority for me, so now I have that extra year to make a full time salary and save some money before I head into law school.

For me, it was worth it completely. I never truly “fit in” where I was, and that was fine by me.  I didn’t want to go to boring dorm parties and drink warm beer with people that I wasn’t truly friends with. I wanted to get through it and get myself exactly where I wanted to be. And for me, that isn’t being hungover and showing up late for my AM classes. I didn’t peak in high school, and clearly I didn’t peak in college. But, I got through it, and I know that the best is yet to come.

This path isn’t for everyone, and it’s definitely not easy. But if you’re focused, determined to get to that next step in your life, and you’re not too attached to where you’re going to school, you might want to consider this. You’ll wind up saving some money along the way, too 🙂

Let me know your thoughts on this. Is this something you want to do, or something you’ve done? I’d love to learn more about your experiences.

J

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