Graduating in four years doesn’t just look great on your resume; it saves you a year or two years’ worth of tuition. That’s literally thousands of dollars in savings. However, according to a 2014 study by Complete College America
, only 19% of full-time college students graduate from public colleges within four years as reported by The New York Times
So what can you do to ensure that you won’t be on a five or six-year plan for a four-year degree?
1. Transfer credits.
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If you’re in high school, enroll in courses that count toward college credit. Whether these are AP courses
or opportunities provided by the local college, these classes can get you a leg up on finishing your degree on time. Ask your counselor about these offerings.
2. Know your major.
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Typically, college students are required to declare their major during sophomore year. Get all of your core classes completed during your freshmen year, and explore major opportunities through the school’s course catalog so you can be prepared. Make sure you know which courses you need to complete your major as well as when they’re offered. Keep in mind that some courses are only offered at certain points in the year.
3. Meet with your advisor.
If you’re at a small college
, it may be a requirement that you meet with your advisor once or twice a year, but at a larger university, it may be merely a suggestion. Think of it as a necessary step each year when you're choosing your classes. An advisor knows which courses are required for your major as well as when they’re available. They can help you develop a realistic game plan for graduating in four years.
4. Go above and beyond.
If you fall behind or decide to change your major halfway through college, take summer classes to make up the time or courses you missed. Summer classes cost a lot less than a full year’s worth of tuition. Also, if you plan to study abroad, choose a program that fulfills major requirements but allows you the international experience you want.
5. Record your requirements.
Keep a log of the requirements for your major
every year that you’re in school. Sometimes, major requirements change, and you don’t want a discrepancy in what the school requires and what you say you’ve completed. By keeping documentation, you can prove that you’ve met all the requirements each year for your major.