Graduate in Four Years or Less

In the past, the average college student graduated in 4 years. But more recently, students are taking up to 5 years and beyond to graduate. While a variety of factors can contribute to a prolonged graduation, such as taking only a few classes per semester, not being able to enroll into a prerequisite course, switching majors midway through your junior year or just wanting to delay the process because you’re scared to go into the real world, a prolonged graduation means more schoolwork and most importantly, more tuition money. If you don’t want to be a second or even third-year senior and don’t want to be in debt forever, here are some tips on how to graduate in 4 years or less.

If you took AP classes in high school and earned adequate scores on your AP exams (generally a 3 or above), you can be eligible to opt out of certain general education courses such as English and history, saving you lots of time and money. While your scores are automatically sent to your university, there is proper protocol and paperwork that must be filled out before you can apply your AP credit(s) towards your degree. Check with your university to see what you need to do to ensure your credits are claimed.

While you’ve read the course catalogue multiple times, degree requirements can get pretty confusing. Some students realize too late that the class they barely passed won’t even be counted towards their degree. To make sure that you’re on the right track, visit your academic advisor. He or she will not only tell you what classes you need to take, but also which professors come highly recommended by other students. They can also give you insight into other minor and concentration options and inform you about opportunities like studying abroad. It’s a good idea to generate a personal online audit list as well. Most colleges use a degree audit reporting system to let students know what classes they have taken, and what requirements they still need to fulfill.

While certain circumstances force some to be part-time students, if you can, try your absolute best to register as a full-time student. Those who take 12 credit-hours or more per semester are considered full-time students. Even still, those who manage to graduate within 4 years usually take 15 credit-hours per semester. This doesn’t mean that you need to overdo it. If you feel overwhelmed with taking that many classes in one semester, then take as many as you feel comfortable with. If you do take 12 credit-hours or less a semester, consider taking at least one summer school course every year to balance it out.

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