Forget that new 4G iPhone or that 32-inch flat screen under the tree this year – because if you’re graduating early this December, earning your diploma five months ahead of schedule is obviously the best gift of the season. Once final exams are over, you can head home for the holidays knowing that you’ll never have to open a textbook or write another paper ever again.
Although graduating a semester early can be a huge relief, it can also leave a residue of mixed feelings. So why do it? There are cons as well as pros. Let’s break it down:
Cons: Besides having to take a higher amount of units per semester, you miss out on bonding with your class.
“I’m really going to miss the great discussions in class and seeing my friends on a daily basis. I’m also going to miss just being here, because living on campus is a huge part of the social norm of college,” 3rd year student Joey Sims said.
Senior Brynne Harned will also miss the community of Vanguard.
“Not hearing David Melgar’s laugh across campus or seeing the familiar faces of friends and faculty will be what I miss most,” Harned said.
Pros: Graduating early will help you save money in regards to tuition, room and board, meal plans, and those lovely textbooks. It simply comes down to those dollar bills. You also get ahead of the curve for the job market. This four to six month also allows you to begin saving up money for important purchases and for retirement months earlier than students who are still in school. And finally, graduating early gives you extra time to research grad schools, travel the world, catch up on all those Grey’s Anatomy episodes you missed, or just sleep. Ahhhh. You can celebrate the fact that you’ve completed your higher education in less than four years.
Many students have different plans for life post-grad. But whichever path they choose, it will always involve growing up faster and diving into life a little sooner than some of their friends.
“After I graduate, my parents won’t be supporting me anymore, so that will be interesting to figure out. I’m going to have to get a real job, have real responsibilities, and actually be an adult. That’s pretty intimidating,” junior Jamie Billiou said.
However, graduating early is more than just turning in a piece of paper with your intent. It’s a whole process. It’s more about planning than cramming.
“It’s exciting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing that your hard work is finally paying off,” junior Jonathan Murillo said.
In terms of offering advice to prospective students considering graduating early, Joey Sims has some suggestions.
“If you’re ready to move on from college and get a head start on life, don’t let anyone hold you back. But if there is even a trace of doubt, don’t do it. These four years are a gift, a chance to learn in a classroom, to discover who you are and to find your passion. They will fly by. Note to future early graduates: you need to know how to balance your time between classes, friends, relationships, God, family, and yourself,” Sims said.
Senior Katelyn Spurgin advises to not rush to finish college, but to relish these four years for all that they offer.
“Enjoy the classes you take, the friends you make, and the memories you’ll take with you wherever you go,” Spurgin said.
Murillo also provides a bit of wisdom.
“Pray about it, and don’t be scared. Live in the moment and walk with Jesus one day at a time,” Murillo said.
There are definitely advantages to graduating early, but it also means making some sacrifices. When it comes down to it, you have to decide whether you’re excited and ready for the real world, or if you need that last semester to figure things out. You know what works best for you – trust that instinct. Whether you plan on graduating early or not, make every day count. Appreciate every all-nighter, Target run, Disneyland adventure, beach trip, movie night, floor event, or SGA event. These years will be gone before you know it.