How to Finish Your Four Year Degree Early

If you are interested in finishing your four year college degree early there are many ways to help you accomplish this goal. Depending on where you are on spectrum of your college career.

  • If you are still in high school, the recommended avenue is to take advance placement, or AP classes. It is possible to walk into freshman year with 20+ credits under your belt already. Report your AP test scores as soon as possible, some schools will give you credit for 4s and 5s while others will allow you to place into a higher course level.
  • Take CLEP exams. The College Level Examination Program has over 30 exams available in 5 categories, composition and literature, foreign language, history and social sciences, science and mathematics and business. These tests can count for a years worth of subject. Subject study guides can be downloaded for about $10 a piece at the College Board website. Study and take the practice tests for a quick boost.
  • Declare your major early to avoid taking unnecessary classes. Mapping out the classes you need, will give you a much better picture of how quickly you can finish your 4 year degree.
  • Request a course challenge. Most colleges allow students to challenge courses by taking an exam or completing a project. Course challenges create extra work for the instructor so it is a good idea to find out which ones are most willing to work with you. Register for the class you wish to challenge. The instructor may have a challenge package ready or you and the instructor may decide upon a project and deadline. Possible course challenge items include a portfolio of your work, an essay or in depth report.
  • Take condensed courses. Often offered in the summer, these classes pack a typical 10 week course into 5 weeks. Because of the short time frame for the same class, there is a heavy work load but if you are intent on finishing early this is good option.
  • Taking just one extra class a semester can get you out of school early.
  • Arrange your days as tightly as possible. Since classes are taught Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesdays and Thursdays you can take classes five days a week allowing more classes to be packed into a week.
  • Take online classes. There are advantages to online classes as long as you are certain the course credit will be applied to your degree.
  • School through the summer. Take those condensed classes and online courses all summer for a boost in your progress.
  • Take advantage of your evenings and weekends. Short classes are often offered at night and on the weekends.
  • Focus simply on school. If this is an option, finishing your 4 year college degree early is easier than if you trying to juggle jobs as well. Often times an accelerated program will mean a less expensive college experience. Letting you begin your desired career earlier. So taking time off from work and taking out loans to cover your living expenses for this time may be worth it in the long run.

It will take a lot of work to finish your four year degree early, but with concentrated effort it is possible.


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