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On the Decision to Graduate Early

 Written by    April 1, 2019

Freshman year, when I first told my advisor I wanted to graduate in 3 years, I was not met with the excitement I expected. While I thought it was a great idea for my future, she had seen students in the past make the same decision as me and go on to regret it. I assumed everyone would pat me on the back and congratulate me for being able to get a degree in less than four years; unfortunately, that wasn’t how it went.

My friends and I have brought up plenty of things we want to do together “senior year” before we quickly realize that I won’t be here. Knowing that the people I’ve been friends with for 8+ years will be here while I’m who-knows-where in America gives me a little bit of FOMO. I wish I was able to enjoy everything alongside them, but still, I think I made the right decision to graduate early.

It all comes down to your priorities. I have friends studying abroad in Italy, England, and Israel, and I realize that I never had time to travel like that during college. As a human who is scared of everything, personally, I’m fine with that; studying abroad was never on my bucket list. But if you had dreams of seeing Europe or Asia or somewhere across the world, graduating early might not be for you.

I have peers taking “fun” classes like rock climbing, skydiving, and yoga. To squeeze in a degree in three years, I don’t have time for extra classes I might enjoy.

When I’m stressing in the career search process, my friends will only be beginning to brainstorm destinations for their senior year spring break trip. These are sacrifices I chose to make.

You see, my priorities just land outside of college. I’m not desperately hoping to go on crazy trips. I don’t have any desire to party or join a ~sorority~. I don’t want to take 13-credit-hour semesters so I can join 20 student orgs. My goals land somewhere else. I want to save my family money and me  money by shaving off 1/4 of my time at college. I want to start my career and see where it takes me. I want to bridge the year-long gap between my boyfriend and I by graduating at the same time as him. I want to avoid taking 30 hours of extra classes because I already have all of my credits.

The point is, graduating early is not for everyone, and I appreciate the caution that mentors and advisors place on freshmen that want to get out in 3 (or fewer) years. There are opportunities that you will inevitably miss if you don’t stay for the normal amount of time, but I’ve been fortunate enough to see and do all the things I wanted to do in college. I rushed the field when the Bucks defeated That Team Up North. I went to College Gameday TWICE and ended up on tv at one of them. I found new hobbies and new friends that I love dearly. I joined groups that I care about, had adventures I never expected, and learned more about my field (and others) than I knew was out there. Heck, I even met John Mulaney. College has given me everything I wanted and more, but it’s also okay to set your sights further than a degree. It’s okay to be excited about adult life. It’s okay to want to graduate early and get out there into the world. If that’s your goal, and you’ve really, truly considered it, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. It’s your decision for your life, and it’s okay if you decide to do something different than everyone else.

Academics, Advice, Author, Personal, The Future

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