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A Plan for Finishing College in Four Years

written by: Destiny Keller•edited by: Amanda Grove•updated: 12/21/2010

If you want to finish college in four years, it is important to have a plan and know what obstacles may come your way. Here are a few tips to help keep you on track.

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    Why Finish in Four Years?

    When imagining the work it takes to get a bachelor’s degree, most people plan on four years of stress, hard work, and patience. However, in a recent study by St. Johns University, less than 30% of students at public universities graduate in four years. Taking an extra year or two might mean less stress and more manageable workloads, but what else does it translate to? Another year in college can also translate to another year of tuition fees, textbooks, campus fees and other education related expenses. You also will be putting off earning money from your first post-degree job or starting graduate school. With these things in mind, many experts will agree finishing school in four year or less is the best way to go if it is possible.

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    Making a Plan

    It is essential to have a plan for finishing college in four years. If you plan on graduating in four years, it is important to have a plan before starting college. The most common obstacles for students and graduating on time are jobs, changing majors, and time. These obstacles are easier to overcome if you plan for them.

    Jobs- Working in college is something many students can't avoid. Besides tuition, students often have living expenses to worry about, which can easily add up, even on the college diet of "dreams and Spaghetti-O's", as put by Martina Mc Bride. If you can't avoid working, try finding a job on campus that is willing to work with your schedule. Often campus jobs give you the day before finals off, and give you time to study. Jobs such as a Resident Assistant in the residence halls often give you free room and board in exchange for your work. If you cannot find an on campus job and still need to work, it is essential that you tell your employer that school is your highest priority. A reasonable student work environment should be willing to work with you on this.

    Major- According to 50% of college students change their majors at least once. These students face more classes and longer time in school as different majors require different classes. The best way to avoid this is to get started early. Most high schools have career centers with plenty of resources to help students decide more about their future careers. Job shadowing, career aptitude tests, and talking with career counselors are a great way to get started. If you are not completely sure about your major when entering college, be sure to talk to your academic advisor in college about taking classes to help you better decide on your major. This way, if you change your mind, you can take classes that won't lose you too much time.

    Time Management- This skill is essential to every college student. Every minute tends to count in college, as every day is a new deadline for something. A planner is the first step in achieving this. Be sure to budget time for homework, school, work, and basic things like cooking, eating, relaxing and exercising. If something is important to you, make sure you plan it, and not hope you have time for it. More often than not unplanned activities such as working out die in vain at the end of every week as other things come into priority.

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    Plans Change

    Many students come to college with these things in mind, and still fall short of enough credits to graduate, and finishing college in four years is sometimes not an option simply because life happens. If you need to work more to survive, or change majors because you realized it is not for you, the obvious answers are to make sure you have what you need to survive and be happy. Otherwise, you are missing the point of college, which in most cases is to better yourself, your knowledge and prepare for the career of your dreams. If life happens to you, don't sweat the small stuff, for you will be in the same boat as the other seventy percent of your fellow students.

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