5 tips for getting through college faster
College is expensive enough when it lasts four years. But the majority of college students don’t graduate in four years–and the additional years and courses they take can significantly increase their college costs.
Every extra year a bachelor’s degree-seeking student spends in college costs an average of $68,153 in additional tuition, fees, and living expenses, plus forgone income, Complete College America estimates.
How to graduate college on time
The Hechinger Report recently posted an article from a student who took 15 years to graduate from college. She regrets not graduating on time and offers fellow students some tips for getting through college faster in order to save time and money.
Tip #1: Choose wisely. While it can be tempting to take classes that sound the most interesting, it’s important to keep in mind the requirements for your degree. Meet with your advisor at least once a year to keep track of your progress and map out what courses you’ll need to take in order to fulfill major and college requirements and graduate on time.
Tip #2: Avoid multiple school transfers and only take required courses. Transferring is okay (especially if you’re transferring from a community college to a 4-year university in order to save time on your degree), but multiple transfers can result in credits not being accepted by colleges, thus forcing you to spend extra time in school and more money on your degree. Make sure all (or most) of your credits will transfer to your new college before transferring schools.
Tip #3: Take a fuller (but not too full) course load. Many college officials recommend that students take a minimum of 15 units per semester as one way of helping to increase the on-time graduation rate. But don’t take too many, or you could end up burning out and doing poorly in your classes.
Tip #4: Prioritize school over work. While a part-time job can help cover some college expenses, working too much can end up costing you money if you aren’t able to take as many credits as you need or if it affects your ability to pass your classes. College experts recommend that full-time college students work no more than 10-12 hours at part-time job. And a report by the nonprofit National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that most students who only attend college part-time are less likely to graduate on time or at all. If you’re going to college, commit to going full time in order to maximize your chances of graduating.
Tip #5: Consider the cheapest option first. While many students and families believe attending a more expensive or prestigious college will help them earn more money in the long run and is thus worth the investment, the data shows that that’s not necessarily the case. It’s better to minimize your college expenses and student debt to help alleviate stress and pressure both during and after college. We recommend students consider in-state public college options first, as well as lesser-known private colleges that offer merit scholarships. But it’s important to note that you’ll never know how much a college will cost you until you actually apply, get accepted and receive your financial aid packages. So even if a college has a high sticker price, it’s definitely worth applying to, but it’s smart to have a backup plan that’s less expensive.
Graduating on time is a smart way to save money during college and reduce your student loan burden. If you can avoid having to stay in college longer to take extra classes, you can avoid adding to your overall college costs, graduate sooner and start earning income at a job faster.
What are your tips for graduating on time and reducing college costs? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook.