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The pros and cons of finishing college in 3 years


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Affording college has become an increasing concern for students and parents. Even with college financial aid, the combined cost of tuition and fees, room and board, and additional expenses often results in students amassing a large amount of debt upon graduating from college. However, some students have discovered a way of reducing that cost by 25 percent. They didn't achieve this by applying to a financial aid program or being awarded specific scholarships. Instead, they graduated a year earlier than the standard four-year college track.

Cut the cost of college
According to CBS News, the concept of a 3-year degree has been around for several decades. In the 1990s, the president of Stanford University in California suggested giving students the option of an accelerated education. The idea was not embraced by faculty or administrators. However, over the years a growing number of schools have begun to offer the 3-year option. In addition to actually enrolling in a 3-year program, students can also consider using credit from Advanced Placement courses taken in high school to accelerate their undergraduate program. If you would like to go the 3-year route be sure to contact schools you are considering and discuss your options.

Pros and cons
Saving money isn't the only benefit of graduating early. Starting the job search two semesters earlier than your peers gives you something of head start in today's competitive job market. Also, employers could see your accelerated path as ambitious and responsible — two qualities that are highly regarded in positions at all levels and across all fields.

However, as with most seemingly perfect options, there is a downside. Graduating before the rest of your friends could make you feel like you're missing out on the full college experience. Katie Miller, a college student who had planned to earn a 3-year degree, had a change of heart during her time at school, reported The Washington Post.

"I decided that you only have a certain amount of time to enjoy the college experience," Miller told the news source. "And I wasn't in as much of a hurry as I thought."

When deciding whether an accelerated path is right for you, be sure to weigh the pros and cons realistically. If the need to minimize student debt outweighs your social concerns, a shorter college career may be your best option.

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