Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
The Forums will be unavailable Tuesday, June 25 starting at 9 am ET as we prepare for a major design update!

What steps do you have to take in high school in order to graduate from college in 3 years?

245

Replies to: What steps do you have to take in high school in order to graduate from college in 3 years?

  • ScienceGirlMomScienceGirlMom Registered User Posts: 423 Member
    Pushing for three years is not the best way to get college completed at a reduced cost to the family. Your son might be better off studying hard for the PSAT and SAT with the hopes of getting large merit awards.

    However, if you want to try for three years, your son should plan on attending college summer school both summers. If the class selection is planned carefully, this should knock out at least one regular semester of credits.

    If your son is a tippy-top student, check if your state has an academy school like in Texas. Students finish their high school diploma and two years of college at the same time.
    http://tams.unt.edu/admissions/about

    There are a lot of colleges that give credit for AP classes; you just need to do your research on the schools in advance.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 76,734 Senior Member
    College credit earned while in high school (through AP scores or college courses taken while in high school) may not necessarily apply subject-wise to the student's major (especially if the student is undecided on college major while still in high school, as many students are) or general education requirements (which can vary considerably from one college to another).

    Therefore, even for students who do earn a lot of college credit while in high school, it is unwise to plan for faster than 8 semester graduation, unless the student is certain on a major and selects AP and college courses while in high school to work toward early graduation with that major and with the general education requirements of the various colleges under consideration. Such students are likely to be outliers in more than one way, so the general case is not to plan for early college graduation, especially in 8th-9th grade.
  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner Registered User Posts: 38,702 Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    For some reason, I keep hearing Edward Khil's singing in the background every time I look at this thread...
  • tangentlinetangentline Registered User Posts: 1,117 Senior Member
    I am in defense of the OP as an INTJ personality — it doesn’t always hurt to plan things out ahead of time if you are aware of risks and consequences. If you really know what you want to do, be ambitious and go for it. I want excellent kids but I’ll go the extent of being a mastermind of preplanning to craft them in the areas that they end up wanting to be in when they are old enough and experienced to know and at the same time have it that my kids are not pressured into anything.

    The primary disclaimer that I have to put in first:
    You have one less year to figure out internships/co-ops to get experience before heading to the work world and it’s harder to land one of these in graduate school than undergrad. If you are ambitious, start working on your networking skills and also start taking courses and extracurriculars in your field. An internship is possible after freshman year as long as you have the skills. However, sometimes they have prereqs of Junior level courses so you have to be on the A game before your last year of college to land one.

    In my case, I didn’t know I was going to graduate in 3 years until advising in my second semester. I came in thinking I already had an internship lined up with a specific company and didn’t put too much effort into this area. Perhaps I could have fixed this if I had known in advance what I needed to do to land one and an extra year may have helped. But really, I did not get this kick in the face until I started looking for jobs after graduation. So in my defense, I don’t know if an extra year would have done it. And still employed but I don’t really like my stable state job so I’m in grad school reworking my shortcomings while getting a Master’s degree on top...

    Secondary disclaimer, college has to be AP/transfer credit friendly. Which was the case of mine and I really didn’t care that I was going to a low tier college as a top 2% student with a lot of APs.

    Now factoring the above disclaimers, here are items that work in your favor to graduating in three years:

    Primarily, a lot of AP credit. Varies by college but the staples are generally: AP Calculus BC, English Literature, and US History. Check GE requirements at the public universities in your state and look for a pattern to verify what areas you need. Generally this can include an art class so Art History will do the job and some AP sciences/social sciences can maximize your AP credit use. Also consider your major and use any AP courses to fulfill prerequisites. You can take the shotgun approach and take as many APs as possible and you won’t go wrong but IMO it’s much better to take out the less staple AP courses after you know you’ve maximized your credit in lieu of courses for experience towards your major (sorry AP Psychology and Environmental Science if you aren’t majoring in those). But you still want enough APs under your belt because they can give advanced class standing and registration priority to escape the problem of being bottlenecked by prerequisites that you can’t get into due to higher class standings filling them up.
    Secondly, you need to plan out your schedule so that you hit all of the prerequisites and don’t get held up a semester. Sometimes you might be able to demonstrate adequacy to a professor in prerequisites / test out on them if you really need a course earlier than usual for prerequisites for later courses down the line.
    Which brings up the point... Challenge test out of any graduation requirements if you don’t actually need the credit hours but need to present adequacy in that area.

    Further in defense of 3 year graduation: If you didn’t know what you were going to do with that 4th year and are on track to graduate in 3 (maybe one or two courses you have to go out of your way for) what are you going to do?
  • bookwormbookworm Registered User Posts: 8,821 Senior Member
    Back in the stone ages, I was able to graduate in 3 years. I took summer classes in Mexico and another U. In this age, I'd be advising any young person to do internships during the summers.
  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 Registered User Posts: 41,570 Senior Member
    Accelerating can lead you into a wall. Nowadays, part of college isn't just to take classes. It's exploring and finding your path, as it's always been - but it's also networking and accumulating experiences, especially professional experiences (internships, leadership) and study abroad. Those have increased value over time - if you study abroad less than a semester, your language skills won't improve to the level you need professionally; a one-month internship isn't the same as one three-month internship let alone two or three summers spent in increasing levels of responsibility...
    Taking several classes that reduce the amount of requirements in college can be used more judiciously to take classes in related fields, to make mistakes with no damage, to take more advanced classes in your major or area of specialty, or to add a minor, rather than to accelerate graduation.

    Are you concerned about cost? Do you think your son shouldn't spend 4 years for an undergraduate degree? Is your son tired of school and wants out already?
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,187 Senior Member
    If you take summer classes...then you are still adding onto the cost. Three years PLUS those summer classes. They aren't free.

    @bookworm
  • scubadivescubadive Registered User Posts: 1,089 Senior Member
    State schools generally take AP and dual enrollment credits from within the state especially from dual enrollment classes at four year institutions. Engineering degrees often take five years not four. There are situations where it works to get ahead. My child walked into college just shy of sixty credits and will be graduating early with a completed coop and engineering degree. Its not for everyone but it is right for certain students. It allows for flexibility in college not taking a killer courseload and allows engineering students in particular to graduate on time while doing a coop or overseas trip. It also frees up time for a double major or minor. Did we plan this at age 13? Nope.
  • powercropperpowercropper Registered User Posts: 1,703 Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    I am another planner who can appreciate the value of early research. I caution you to do your research privately, do not dump pressure on your child.

    Reading in this forum regularly is a good use of your time. You learn answers to questions you did not even know you should ask.

    And please note the posts from freshmen who are homesick and sure they are the only ones in their college not making friends right away. And the hard posts, the ones from parents heartbroken that their child has dropped out, from partying too hard or from anxiety and depression. I am learning from these parents that College is not a race, and that a child's well being is more important than their education.

    This non-academic side of college is often ignored, and yet can have a huge impact on education. Training your child to be independent in high school is a great foundation for college success. From laundry, cooking, time management, and stress management to establishing study skills, using an academic planner to chart assignments, and not waiting til the night before an exam to start studying. These are all great preparation for college success. Train your child to be responsible for waking up on their own, turning in their homework assignments, and getting to their work or practices on time.

    And roommates...teach your child how to respect others and appreciate that different people with different upbringings can disagree and still maintain a cordial living arrangement.

    Your job (along with child's father and any step parents) is to figure out an annual budget for college. Where is the money coming from? Is there a 529 savings account set up? Be honest and open about what you can provide, and as your child gets into high school, mention your limitations.

    Some colleges only require FAFSA, others require more detailed financial information. If you are not still married to your child's father, it is helpful to research what is required at various colleges. Divorces get emotional, and sometimes parents refuse to pay, but colleges and the federal government still take the Income into account. So if this applies to your family, be sure to have some college choices that require only FAFSA.

    Your best chance for assistance is through merit aid. High GPA and test scores are key. The more competitive scholarships will look at activities, essays, and interviews. So test prep courses are very valuable tools, and worth the cost. Get referrals from friends with older kids who have used local classes.

    Some parents have non-financial limitations on college choice as well. Geographic, religious, or cultural preferences need to be clearly communicated once the student shows interest in the subject.

    Expose your child to local college campuses by attending music concerts, plays, or athletic events on campus. Not to indoctrinate child, but just to introduce them to a different world. I attended several workshops held on college campuses related to journalism/yearbook, and participated in a math competition. It was a non-pressured way to get me on several college campuses.

    Once your child is in high school, you can explore summer camps on college campuses. Some are Day camps lasting one or two weeks, others are three or four week residential camps.

    A friend sent her son to a six week "so you think you want to be an engineer" course at Vanderbilt the summer before his senior year of HS. It was a great help in surveying the types of engineering, and the hands on detail cemented her son's interest in that field. That summer course was expensive, but the cost of floundering in college engineering classes, switching majors, or taking a hit on your GPA as you discover you are not cut out for engineering can cost even more.

    So there are lots of things you can do now that will impact the cost of education for your child. Read about colleges, get past the prestige and rankings, and appreciate the in-state options for both public and private colleges. Dual enrollment was a great option for our family, but note that each college has their own policy about what credits they accept.

    My D ended up graduating college one semester early. She came in with 22 college credits. There was a cost, though. All the fun Spring Senior events were not worth a semester of tuition costs, but she did miss out. We lived two hours away, so she was able to change her work schedule to attend some things. But if her college had been across the country, she would have missed all the fun.

    So, research all you want, it can give you some confidence as you approach the high school years. But do it on your own, and let your child enjoy middle school.
  • BuckeyeMWDSGBuckeyeMWDSG Registered User Posts: 850 Member
    Your child has to be the one initiating their education plan. It's fine if you help them layout options if they share their goals with you, but it will be up to them to schedule the classes with their academic advisors and perform well in the classes.

    Our D only applied to in state publics because of her extensive dual enrollment credits she only had 4 semesters left to complete her degree when she graduated high school. She wanted to do them all in a row and graduate in a year and a half. We refused (nor could we afford) to pay for that. Her scholarships were only good for two semesters a year so we would have had to pay for two full sticker semesters on top of our expected EFC for the traditional academic year. She also would have graduated with zero work experience in her field.

    When she got to college she started to realize there were a lot of opportunities beyond the classroom that she needed to experience in order to succeed. She became involved in research, landed internships and stretched her studies to three years to fit more in. Still she was at a disadvantage when she decided to apply for graduate school compared to students that had the full four years to develop themselves into strong candidates and had better networks than she did.

    It can also be much cheaper to take longer to graduate by spacing semesters out with co-ops. Most tax years we only had one semester of tuition to pay for and the other semesters our D was earning an excellent paycheck.
  • bgbg4usbgbg4us Registered User Posts: 1,207 Senior Member
    both my current college kids had lots of credits going in to college. neither will graduate early.

    Here's why: both kids' majors have a required sequence of classes that are built upon the previous classes, and require 8 semester in a row for these classes. SO -- I think 1 kid could take a mandatory upper level class during the summer; but that would mean NO INTERNSHIP between JR/Sr. year. The internship will pay well and give him options for jobs.

    The credits have helped in these ways:

    they've lightened loads in college. Kids can take lower amount of credit hours each semester and have more time to study and have higher grade point averages. If you pay by credit, this costs less as well.

    they can allow your kid to pick up a minor, or take a few classes outside of their realm. (eg: D16 took a print-making class last semester just because she loves art)

    they let your kid register earlier than other kids the same age, thus getting prime class times and spots.

    ** also -- If you're concerened about cost, and want to maximize credits coming in, pick a school that charges by credit hour, not a flat rate semester tuition.

    It's good your looking ahead and planning; i'm that way myself. But you know, so many things can change between now and then. Keep that in mind and keep looking at all the possibilities.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,187 Senior Member
    Your child has to be the one initiating their education plan.

    I agree...but what 13 year old is thinking about what they are going to be doing in college?

    To the parent...know the options...but don't be gomsmocked if your student can't graduate in three years....or doesn't want to.

    Look for affordable options.

  • katstat1katstat1 Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    There is a LOT of great advice here! Just today I was looking at my D's AP and dual credits and figuring out if she could graduate in 3 years. I think is is possible if everything fell into place just right, but I had decided that it probably wasn't a good idea. Then I came on here and read this thread and just cemented that decision. I would rather her be able to take lighter semesters and get to study abroad if she wishes. She is planning on grad school and I do think she will be a stronger candidate with 4 years of undergrad experiences.
  • my2caligirlsmy2caligirls Registered User Posts: 936 Member
    Certainly agree that 8th grade is way to early to put an accelerated plan in place or create any kind of expectations around it. As many have pointed out, the target schools and major will have a large impact on how feasible a 3 year plan would be. For example, my D18 is currently applying to schools and AP/DE credit varies widely from a low of 12 credits to a high of 45-48 credits - pretty much all publics.

    Whether you pursue a traditional or accelerated path is your business - there is no right or wrong answer. Just maintain flexibility as it may or may not work out as planned and that is life. I know of several family friends that have taken this approach and it worked out well for them. One graduated from McGill last May and landed a great job. The other is a business undergrad on a 3 yr track at Utah and is in her 2nd yr at school and on exchange at Oxford this year with a summer internship at Jefferies lined up. Both are extremely focused and successful. So yes a positive outcome is very possible.

    My D is considering a similar plan as it works well for her current grad school plans. If her plans change it's not a big deal as the advanced standing allows for lots of flexibility.
  • jazzymomof7jazzymomof7 Registered User Posts: 265 Junior Member
    I graduated college in 3.5 years and it didn't seem to hurt anything. I went into college with 12 hours from AP credits, took 1 wintermester class at a community college, and got some credits studying abroad one summer. I still had time to work, do an internship one summer, take interesting classes, and be social/make life-long friends/meet my husband. I graduated summa cum laude. I think graduating early is fine if it is what the student wants.

    I have a 13 yo dd (8th grade) and I have started thinking about how she could accumulate college credits with AP/DE courses. I am looking at gen eds/core courses, and state universities where the credits will transfer. This hasn't made her feel pressured in any way. It's just something I'm researching now so she can consider it when she starts making choices for high school next year. It seems like she could pretty easily accumulate 30 transferable credits that would either lighten her load or enable her to graduate early. If she doesn't want to do it or tries and it doesn't work out that's fine.

    Considering different avenues and making plans doesn't mean pressure will be applied. I feel it gives the student more options. I wish I would have done more research/planning for my oldest. I feel his options are somewhat limited because there was so much I didn't know.
This discussion has been closed.