“Should I Graduate College Early?”: The Pros and Cons

If you are eager to enter the work world and asking yourself: “should I graduate college early?” make sure you consider these pros and cons. Graduating college early can be very tempting, especially if you’re feeling burnt out or just want to be done with school. We get it, you’ve been in school for the last 15-16 years of your life and you’re tired!

Whether you’re in your first year or two of college or are now graduating high school, it’s important to be informed about graduating early. But like every decision, it has pros and cons. We’ve broken it down so you can weigh your options and decide if it’s the right decision for you.

A student wearing a graduation cap looking to the tassel.

Flickr user John McStravick

5 Reasons to Graduate Early

1. It Could Save you Money

One of the biggest pros of graduating college early is saving money. Yes, your college credits will still cost the same but when you graduate early you won’t have to pay for the meal plans, rent, and other semester expenses. If you pay $600 a month for rent while you’re in college and you graduate a year early, you can save around $7,000! You also won’t have to pay for your parking pass, supplies, and those random fees that get stacked onto your tuition each year.

These college costs add up along with your tuition costs so graduating early can help save serious money. Usually, this means you’ll take out fewer student loans, which will make your repayment plan shorter by decreasing the loans you’re taking out. 

2. You Could Get a Job Earlier

When you graduate earlier, you’re eligible to apply for jobs earlier since you have your degree. If you’re excited to get into the workforce and already have a job lined up, graduating early is a great idea. Many college students will do internships over the summer and get offered a full-time job when they graduate college so they have a planned setup. You’ll be making your own money and jumpstarting your professional career. The younger you start working (and the sooner you save those paychecks), the younger you can retire!

3. It Could allow you to Take a Gap Year

If you have a timeline for the big events in your life, adding a gap year can sometimes mess things up. If you decide to graduate early, you can take a guilt-free gap year to try other hobbies, explore random careers, and even travel. Once your gap year is over, you can enter the workforce you were originally planning on entering anyways, or start a career inspired by your gap year.

4. You can Apply for Graduate School Earlier

When you’re finished with your undergraduate degree earlier, you’ll be able to attend grad school earlier. Instead of spending additional years in college, you can cut it short by graduating early. Getting all your schooling done as early as possible is a great reason to graduate early for many college students, especially if you’re planning on going to grad school.

5. It May Show Your Ambition

Oh, you graduate college early? How ambitious of you! Future employers and grad school admissions committees will see that you worked hard to excel in your academic career. Employers look for hard workers who go above and beyond and what better way to show them than by graduating early?

5 Reasons to NOT Graduate Early

1. It Could Lead to Higher Stress Levels

Graduating college can be very tempting, but it also imposes a lot of stress on college students. Graduating in 4 years can already seem difficult enough. When you decide to graduate early, you’ll be taking more than the normal amount of college credits each semester and will most likely have classes over the summer. A heavier course load is normal for students who want an early graduation date. Your homework and assignments may start to pile on and cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

2. You might miss out on College Experiences

College is more than just your academic career. You meet a lot of people and network with some you may have never networked with before. You see the world differently and when you graduate, you cut that experience short. Even if you do decide to come back to college later on in your life, you’ll never be this young again and living the way you are right now. Graduating early can make you grow up fast, making you miss key college life experiences. 

3. You’ll need to To Get a Job

When you graduate early, you’ll also be getting a job early. For college students who have a job lined up because of an internship, or have already been applying, then this isn’t that big of a deal. Students who haven’t been hunting for a job, may find themselves stuck looking for one and in a waiting period after their early graduation. Then, there’s this rush to get a job and some students may end up taking one they didn’t want in the first place, or maybe one that doesn’t pay so great.

4. Losing Financial Aid

Students don’t lose financial aid just because they want to graduate early, but other factors will play into it. For example, your financial aid may only cover a certain number of credit hours each semester so when you take the extras to graduate early, you won’t be eligible to receive funding for those hours. You may have to pay out of pocket or take out student loans to cover the difference. If you’re on a scholarship or are receiving financial aid, be sure to talk with an academic and financial aid advisor to ensure your funding won’t be pulled because you want to graduate early.

5. You may miss opportunities to build a nice Long Resume

While you’re in college, you can join clubs, have a part-time job, and even hold positions of power that can help beef up your resume and add to your experience. For students who want to graduate early, they may not have time to do extracurriculars and get more involved on their campus, leaving their resume almost blank and full of just their education. College is more than just school and when you graduate early, you miss out on the opportunities to learn more and expand your skill set in your professional life.

Weighing your options

Deciding to graduate early is not a decision college students will make lightly. There are a lot of factors to consider before taking that route which is why it’s so important for students to know the pros and cons. Speak with your academic advisors and financial aid advisors before making a decision to ensure it’s the best one for your academic and professional career. They’ll ensure you’ve met the general education requirement and have completed the graduation requirements. 


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