Without careful planning, the odds that you’ll finish a bachelor’s degree in four years pretty slim. According to one study, only 50 out of the 580 colleges surveyed graduated most of their full-time students on time. More and more college students are taking five, six, or eight years to finish their degree. And those extra years in school hurt your career chances and choices. As a rule of thumb, your earnings increase as your education level increases. The extra years you spend in the workforce without a degree means earning less than your true potential.
So how can you finish college faster and start maximizing your earning potential as soon as possible? Here are five tips that’ll help you stay on course so you can finish your degree in four years…or even faster.
Plan ahead with your college advisor
Your first step to graduating on time is a visit to your college advisor’s office. Discuss with your advisor what requirements you need to meet to graduate on time. Your advisor helps you become aware of any special requirements you need for your particular degree program. Working with an advisor will help you avoid taking any unnecessary classes and also ensure that you enroll in the right classes on time.
If your required course is already filled, advisors can facilitate communication with faculty to arrange for a seat in the course. If you decide to take a semester to go abroad, college advisors will help you stay on track. Your college advisor is crucial in helping you finish college on time.
Take an Accelerated Course
While courses within a traditional degree program can last for up to 16 weeks, accelerated programs are a different story. Accelerated courses typically last six or eight weeks. Since the courses are much shorter, you can finish your degree much quicker. Depending on the program you choose, you can get your degree in as little as 12 to 18 months.
Accelerated courses are not for everyone. Because the courses are so much shorter, they are often more intense. Most accelerated courses are much more self-guided. You will be doing a lot more independent study and review to keep up with the material.
Get Credit for Prior Learning
Did you know your work experience may qualify for college credits? The real-world working experience may be relevant to your degree program. Some colleges will give you credits for your work experience.
Do you have military experience or time working abroad? The years you spent in Spain may equate to some Spanish college credits. Check with your chosen college to see if your work experience can convert into college credits.
Take College Courses in High School
For high schoolers, there are opportunities to earn college credits before graduating. You can enroll in international baccalaureate (IB) classes or advanced placement (AP) classes. Both class types offer college credits for those who pass the final exam.
Some high schools also offer dual enrollment courses. High schoolers can earn college credits with dual enrollment by taking the same courses at a nearby community college. Dual enrollment courses are often free and don’t take any additional time since you’d be taking them as a part of your high school classes. Make sure that your chosen college accepts dual-enrollment credits before you take any.
Take Advantage of Credit-by-Exam
Credit-by-Exam programs allow you to earn credits toward your degree by taking one standardized exam. Credit-by-Exam allows you to knock out your gen-ed courses quicker, so you can start completing the core requirements for your degree. Credit-by-Exam includes CLEP, DSST, and ECE tests. Each of these exams offers different options for earning credit for advanced work or knowledge you already possess. These exams help you get your degree faster because you can earn college credits without attending a class.
CLEP or the College Level Examination Program is the most popular Credit-by-Exam test among college students. CLEP includes 30 exams you can take to show your knowledge of a subject and earn college credit for the material you’ve already mastered. CLEP is accepted by over 3,000 colleges nationwide and has over 2,000 test centers.
CLEP, and other Credit-by-Exam programs, are not only a great way to finish college faster but can save you tons of money. According to the College Board, students who earn 15 CLEP credits towards a college degree can save up to $17,000!
The Smart Way to Finish College Fast
Smarter with Achieve combines the speed of accelerated courses with the convenience of Credit-by-Exam. We offer exam guidance to help you study to pass CLEP, ECE, and DSST exams. At Smarter with Achieve, you’ll get…
- Instructor guidance. Our instructors will help you brush up on your knowledge before the test day and give you insider information on how the exams are structured.
- A library of study materials. When you register with Smarter, you get practice tests and guidelines, so you’ll be confident when facing your CLEP, DSST, or ECE exam.
- Exam-specific questions. Get access to exam-specific questions to help you prep for CLEP.
Although Smarter with Achieve is not a school, we can help you pass exams for college credits accepted at over 3,000 accredited college institutions.