5 Reasons to Graduate College Early

graduating from college
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Graduating college early is not for everyone. Most students need the full four—or even five—years to complete their education. But for those who have amassed enough credits and fulfilled their major requirements, graduating a semester early (or more) is a viable option. It could even prove beneficial.

Here are some of the reasons graduating early from college may be a good idea.

Save Money

One of the biggest reasons for graduating college early is to save the cost of tuition and housing. College is a massive expense these days, and it can put a grave strain on a family or rack up debt for the student (or both). By graduating early, a student can ease this economic burden and save tens of thousands of dollars.

Get Into the Job Market Sooner

Graduating college a semester early also means getting an earlier start to a post-grad career. Students can gain professional experience sooner and set themselves up for a more secure future. Plus, in addition to saving tuition dollars, early graduates can start earning an income.

Interview in the Off-Season

In the fall after graduation, there is a big rush to the job market for students who graduated in May and June. Those who graduate college early and are ready for the job market in January may find themselves competing in a less crowded field.

Get a Break

Maybe students don't want to start a job immediately after graduation—that's OK. If that's the case, graduating early from college creates the opportunity for a break—perhaps some travel or time with family. Because entering the job market can often mean little vacation time, this hiatus may be the last block of free time for potentially many years.

This also applies to students planning to continue their education after their undergraduate graduation.

Apply to Graduate or Professional School

For any student planning to apply to graduate or professional school, graduating early from college offers a big advantage. No longer having to worry about their undergraduate program, these early graduates will have more time to prepare for entrance exams, applications, and admissions interviews.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

These are all good reasons for graduating college early. However, while explaining how their students can do it, Duke University offers an alternative view: “Bear in mind that your college years come at a special time in your life and are a rare opportunity for you to engage so freely and intensely in your development, intellectual and otherwise. Think twice before cutting your Duke career short. As an alternative to graduating early, even if you are eligible to do so, you might think about enriching your experience by taking a semester to travel or study abroad.”

In an article about exploring early college graduation for the Wall Street Journal, Sue Shellenbarger shares that she regrets her decision to graduate in less than four years. She explains, “I went through undergrad school in three and a half years, and I wish now I had done more extracurricular activities and had a little more fun. Our working lives are decades long, and I constantly tell my own two college students that their university days offer an opportunity for reflection and exploration."

One thing that early graduates don't need to worry about missing is a graduation ceremony. Most colleges and universities are delighted to have early graduates partake in all of the year-end graduation festivities.