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How to Graduate from College in Three Years

written by: Tia Ahmed•edited by: Noreen Gunnell•updated: 6/27/2011

College consumes a lot of time and energy, so naturally many students want to get rid of a year or two so that they can join the workforce and help pay off those dreaded student loans. Let us look at some options for how one could graduate from college in less than 4 years.

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    What Graduating Early Could Mean for You

    Save an extra year where what you would be spending on books could be spent on vacations or other stress-free activities to help prepare you for reality, which can be very stressful. Regardless of what one does during that extra year, there will be free time and time away from college life, in the odd event that one hated life in college; however, not everyone can graduate early and it all depends on what your major is and whether or not you wish to advance to graduate school.

    For some majors, such as electrical engineering, it may not be advisable to graduate early as the programs are difficult on their own, so make sure to seek advice from your current college and follow its recommendations first. Remember not all colleges offer a readily available 3 year graduation program, but some do and it never hurts to try or ask for other options.

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    Summer Classes

    The summer offers some of the best opportunities for earning credits. Most colleges will provide students with summer courses that can be completed within a very short time; however, most of these courses are usually difficult and time consuming in nature and one must learn to manage time effectively while taking summer courses. Summer courses can be offered in alternative ways as well, such as interning for credits instead of payment. Some colleges, such as Yale University, offer independent course credits for undergraduate students if they can come up with a study that meets their specific requirements.

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    "Overloading Courses"

    The idea of a course credit overload is a technical term used by many students. The idea is that one goes over the maximum amount of course credits that are offered each semester. Usually, the credits are between 16 to 20 depending on the university and how they measure credit hours. The maximum credit hours per semester in Guilford College is 18; however most courses are 4 credits, which means most people take an average of 16 credits per semester. Overloading simply means taking a few credits over the limit and it isn't covered by scholarships and must be paid for when the tuition is due; however, one has to gain approval by staff, achieve minimum GPA requirements, etc, before attempting to overload courses for most colleges.

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    Winter Internships

    Unlike the summer, winters are shorter and more grueling and therefore a lot of colleges choose not to have any courses offered; however, there may be some colleges that do offer courses, since internships and independent studies during the winter are not unheard of.

    The internships are usually not campus affiliated, but credits can be earned depending on the programs that the company or companies have set up with your college. Make sure to look and ask around your community before attempting to intern as some internships may not offer any credits and instead provide you with volunteer experience, which isn't bad, but won't really help you graduate in three years either.

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    "How Can I Gradguate College in 3 Years?"

    Next time you ask "How can I graduate college in 3 years?" remember the summer courses, an overload in course credits, and winter internships opportunities you may not even be aware of. Always seek advice from people who have already graduated to see whether or not it is a good idea, but remember the ultimate decision to graduate early lies with you.