It’s a cultural expectation that college takes, on average, four years to finish. Anything beyond that means spending extra time and money on tuition fees, not to mention textbook costs and possibly inflated living expenses. Another year spent in college also means that you will not be able to take on full-time employment and start earning. It seems to be a common misconception that after you get accepted into college all that’s left is to graduate, and it doesn’t matter so much how long it takes you. However, simple math will show that the time spent on your education can easily be the cause of leaving school broke and in debt, or well off and ready to focus on starting a career. This means that students who use loans to finance their studies should be particularly wary of how long it would take them to graduate from college.
Anyone can attempt to implement an accelerated program for their college studies, so long as they follow several basic steps and ensure they have a plan.
1. Stay on track: You need to optimize your time in college. Ideally you will want to schedule at least the average number of credit hours associated with a four year timeline. Putting off subjects you’re not particularly fond of will only make things worse as you will obviously have to take them at some point. Again, try to estimate the average number of trouble classes per term, and schedule at least that many to stay on pace with finishing the very difficult classes on time.
2. Seek assistance: The college adviser is there for a reason. This is a person whose sole working purpose is to make your life easier as he or she guides you through the different modules of the available programs. Whenever you find yourself struggling with the material, or perhaps even with handling your expenses, you will want to address these issues as soon as possible to avoid falling in an even more difficult situation. Meet with the adviser on a semi-regular basis to tackle all problems as they arise or simply brainstorm plans for your higher educational path.
3. Be consistent: More and more people are changing majors in pursuit of a field that fits them best, but this may not always produce the best results. Of course you should strive for something you are passionate about, but that does not mean switching majors hastily. Every change carries with it time and costs that add up quickly, not to mention the fact that it takes a while to get used to the new material. You don’t want to waste resources as you’re figuring out what you want to do with your life. Additionally, it might be tempting to fall into the pattern of changing majors every time things start appearing too difficult or you start feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes you just need to push through the classes that are more factual and not so interesting to be able to see the bigger picture and fully appreciate the field you’ve chosen.
4. Postpone full-time work: It’s not uncommon for students to have their academic work suffer because of the fact that they’ve taken on a job to supplement their income through college. While it is perfectly understandable to want a bit more financial independence, you have to realize that right now school should be your top priority. Plan your working life carefully, as it can easily interfere with the studying and performance aspects of your life.
5. Commit to the program: Changing majors is not the only way to squander time and money. For a variety of reasons, students decide to transfer mid or end-term to a different college, keeping their major. You might think that because the major remains the same there won’t be any negative consequences, but in almost every case you lose some number of credits when you transfer. Different colleges have different curriculum, and have organized their programs in distinctive ways that are not easily interchangeable. Don’t make the decision to transfer schools impulsively, or without being aware of exactly how your progress will be affected.