How to Graduate in 3 Years


Want to save big bucks?

If you were wondering how to graduate in three years, your advisor might not tell you how to do so. Most schools want students to stay for the fourth year and to pay another year’s worth of tuition, even if you can graduate in three. A university is a business first and a school second, but Onward State has no reservations about telling Penn Staters how to get a better bang for their buck.

Marissa Miller, a first-year student planning on graduating in three years in public relations believes,”You can gain the same amount of experience and maybe even more than normal four yearers, but you just have to make sure you are proactive in this!”

Saving a ton of money, impressing employers by completing college a year earlier than average and gaining extra job and life experience by starting your career early, are just some of the benefits of graduating early, said Miller.

The first step of graduating from Penn State in three years is to enter with a lot of credits. Ask your high school and community college if they offer a CAP/joint credit program. CAP allows students to take a high school class and receive college credit. If they do not have a joint program, consider taking AP/IB classes and study hard for those tests! Another option is the CLEP test, you can take this test at a CLEP approved center that certifies your knowledge in that credit area. For passing one CLEP exam, you can earn up to 12 credits!!!

Taking AP, IB, CAP and CLEP is a huge money saver. You can pay under $100 to get the credits you need. Conversely, you could pay anywhere from $500 – $840 per credit.

Another good idea to get more credits is to take summer school classes. Three summer semesters of six credits is one semester or 18 credits here at Penn State! Make sure the class you take in summer school transfer though. You can check to see which colleges transfer into Penn State by using the Penn State transfer tool.

The next step in graduating in three years is deciding your major and sticking to it. Changing your major alters the required classes you need to take in order to graduate, which often leads to extra semesters… and extra loans.

To avoid extra semesters, visit the University Bulletin. “The bulletin offers you the yellow brick road you need to get to your destination,” said Marissa Miller.

Here you can select your major from the alphabetical list and view your prescribed (required) credits, additional courses (the ones slightly different from your major) and general education (random courses outside your major) requirements.

If your college requires a minor, go on elion and choose the “Majors and Minors” tab. Select “Degree Audit”, and click the “Alternative (minors to explore)” button. From there, fill out the information and see which classes you need to take to graduate with that minor.

Map out the courses in your six semester plan, so you meet all the requirements of your major and minor. Finally, fill in the gaps with those general education courses. If you have some extra gen-eds that don’t fit into your master plan, feel free to take those classes during the summer either at Penn State or at your local community college back home.

Also, if you were planning on going to graduate school, see if you can match your general education courses with the entrance requirements for your master’s degree. This is a great way to confirm your interest in the master’s degree you were planning on enrolling for. If the gen-eds that lead to your master aren’t appealing to you, maybe it’s time to start looking in other directions.

Meet with your advisor and go over your three year plan. Having an advisor or two look over your proposition is a good way to ensure that your planning will yield the results you hoped.

As a side note, it’s important to maximize your college experience by getting involved in a club, sport or activity. “Your time is limited, so it makes each moment more special,” said Miller.

The final step to a three-year graduation is to stick to your plan, get good grades, and graduate.

Graduating in three years isn’t for everyone. If you feel like you want to stay for another year at the end of your third year, more power to you. However, if you are looking to save that fourth year tuition or want a head-start on your career, graduating in three years is a great way to do so.

Note: This does not work for all majors.

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About the Author

Megan Swiatkowski

I'm a South Jersey girl with a passion for news!

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