Thursday, August 23, 2012

This author sees benefits to graduating early

7 Benefits of Graduating Early

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You’ve heard that college is the best four years of your life from old folks longing to go back and relive their glory days. But is it necessary that it be four full years? Many students choose to graduate a semester or full year early, and often don’t feel that they’ve missed out on anything. While critics question why you would want to jump into the real world of responsibility any sooner than you have to, there are dozens of benefits for those who finish their degree faster than the average. If any of these benefits sound compelling to you, consider talking to your advisor about how you can schedule your degree requirements into fewer years.
  1. You’ll save money:

    As tuition costs all over the country continue to rise, students are looking for any way to keep costs and student loan debts down. One simple way to cut costs by a quarter is to graduate a year early. Instead of four years’ of bank-breaking tuition, you’ll just pay three years’ worth. This could be a savings of anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on the school you attend. For many, that number is worth more than another year of socializing with friends and sleeping late.
  2. You can start grad school earlier:

    Thinking about two (or three or four) more years of school after you graduate can be seriously daunting. If you’re on a traditional timeline and go to some form of graduate school, you could easily be in the later half of your 20s by the time you finally get away from homework and studying. Getting a head start on grad school makes it more manageable for many students, not just financially but emotionally. The light at the end of the higher education tunnel will seem that much closer if you knock a year off the total.
  3. You have a head start in the job market:

    While the thought of entering the tough job market might make you want to stay safely tucked away in college for as long as possible, graduating a semester early could actually give you a leg up. While your peers spend January through May finishing up their degrees, you’ll have the opportunity to apply and interview for any job postings that show up during that time. The competition from new grads won’t be as intense since there are fewer December graduates, and if you need some time to figure out your next move, you have a whole semester before your classmates enter the job market.
  4. You’ll have time for an internship:

    While many students get internships during college, between a typical course load and social obligations, there’s really no chance for them to get a full-time internship before trying to land a job after graduation. Those that graduate early though, have essentially cleared their schedules. Of course, many want (or need) to get a full-time, paid position after graduating, but with the extra time you’ve given yourself, you could pad your resume with a full-time internship or a couple of part-time positions. This is a particularly good option for students whose parents offer to help support them since they’re saving so much money in tuition!
  5. You can start saving for retirement:

    You don’t even have a job, so why should you bother worrying about retirement? With life expectancy rising and many Americans coming up seriously short when it comes to retirement, the sooner you start putting away money for retirement, the better your chances are of being financially secure when the time comes. While it seems like centuries away right now, it only gets harder to save enough as time goes on. If you put away $4,000 a year from the time you’re 22, you’ll have $1 million when you’re 62 (if you get 8% annual returns). If you wait until you’re 32 to start, you’ll have to save $8,800 a year instead, a sum that might be tough to save with the likelihood of increased financial responsibilities by that age. Getting a job and starting retirement savings early will only put you ahead of the game, benefiting you in the long run.
  6. You don’t have to take tests anymore:

    No one in the world likes taking tests. If you say you do, you’re either crazy or lying. One of the very best parts of graduating early (assuming you’re not setting yourself up for more test torture by entering grad school) is the fact that you will be sparing yourself an entire semester or year of exams. No more all-night cram sessions, Scantrons, or test-day stress. In the real world, you’ll demonstrate your knowledge by performing the duties of your job, not filling in answer bubbles.
  7. You can move on already:

    There’s no denying that childhood and college are great. You have a lack of responsibility, but that also means you are often not in total control of your life. If your parents are paying for school, they undoubtedly have some sort of conditions for their continuing support, like you going to class, making good grades, and not partying all night. If you are paying your way through school, you probably have to juggle a crummy part-time job and your course load. Graduating early offers the chance to move on with your adult life. Get a full-time job you actually enjoy, get married if you want, have some kids, maybe buy a house, a boat, or that Stormtrooper uniform you’ve always wanted. Once you graduate, you get to call the shots (for the most part), so why not start early?

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