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

logiccolorlogiccolor 4 replies4 threads New Member
My 13-year-old son just started 8th grade a few weeks ago and even though he's still in middle school, we're already talking about his college plans. One of the things that would be really nice is if he could graduate in 3 years instead of 4. Obviously, in order for this to work, he would have to enter college with sophomore status which means he would have to have earned a year of college credit by the time he graduated from high school. He's probably going to graduate with about 9 or 10 AP classes under his belt, but many colleges don't accept AP credits. I know that taking classes at a local community college is also an option. If we take this route, how soon would he have to start at the community college and how many college classes should he take each semester? I am also aware that the universities in the UK are designed to take 3 years, so we'll also look at studying abroad.
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Replies to: What steps do you have to take in high school in order to graduate from college in 3 years?

  • bodanglesbodangles 8628 replies557 threads Senior Member
    Depends on major and what he wants out of college -- probably neither of which he has a good idea of yet.
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  • katliamomkatliamom 13973 replies170 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Many colleges won't take community college credits - and some others may consider your child a transfer student, limiting his options. My recommendation would be to focus instead on the best education he can get in high school, and start making college plans in his junior year... when he will know a lot more about his interests and possible career options. BTW, there are many compelling reasons NOT to graduate in 3 years... getting a broad, multifaceted education and a college experience that could include, for example, study abroad, are just two of them.
    edited September 2017
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  • AroundHereAroundHere 3600 replies22 threads Senior Member
    If the goal is to finish in three years, you have to be willing to cross schools off the list that do not accept his AP or dual enrollment classes. In general, public universities offer more generous advanced standing credit than private ones, but this isn't an iron-clad rule. You need to investigate school by school.

    Do you know the major yet? Not all majors are available in three year degree programs.

    Here's an example

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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6522 replies1 threads Senior Member
    If your reason to want him to graduate in 3 years is cost, then you are probably better off looking at universities that are reasonably priced rather than looking to graduate in three years. We have seen more than a factor of 4 difference between the least expensive and most expensive universities. Also, we have seen almost no correlation at all between academic strength and cost. Some of the academically strongest universities that either daughter got into were close to being the least expensive.

    The US education system puts an enormous amount of stress on our students. There are a LOT of cases of students suffering from serious stress related illnesses, and there are a LOT of high school students in the US (more than a million the last time I checked) being treated for stress related health problems. You will understand this more after watching your son and his friends and acquaintances go through 4 years of high school. I watched the movie "race to nowhere" twice -- once before either daughter started high school and again after they had both graduated. The first time I didn't really get it. The second time I went away with the reaction "yup, that is the US high school system".

    Given what we as a nation are already doing to our high school students, I don't think that your son needs the added stress of being encouraged or expected to graduate university in 3 years.
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  • mjrube94mjrube94 407 replies15 threads Member
    Two additional things to consider:

    1) He doesn't necessarily need to go in with sophomore standing. For each school he becomes interested in, check their policy regarding how many classes are covered by tuition. For example, most kids may only take 4 classes per semester, but the school will allow them to take 5 or 6 (sometimes with permission, or based on GPA) for the same price, in which case he could go in without APs and take extra each courses each semester.

    2) Some schools may not allow early graduation. My D is at Tufts and they explicitly say that they have an 8-semester requirement because they feel kids need to "absorb and reflect on the information" they're learning. (The cynic in me says it's so they can get 8 semesters of tuition, but that's another story). Regardless, there are very few exceptions to that requirement, so definitely check what each school's policy is.

    And while I assume and hope you're letting your son enjoy school and not stress about this stuff right now, I think it's great that you are considering all of the options so you can make sure you / he are best prepared.
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  • gosmomgosmom 2037 replies58 threads Senior Member
    what @thumper1 and @wis75 said.
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  • CU123CU123 3708 replies77 threads Senior Member
    You may want to look at UK schools as their standard time for college graduation is 3 years.
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  • raclutraclut 3756 replies239 threads Senior Member
    Frankly, I would just let your child experience being a teenager in high school and the full 4 year college experience. Being an adult comes with a lot of responsibilities and they have their whole life to work. You don't want a burnout high school student that can no longer focus on their studies. Look at the College Life threads. You will see a lot of kids that are stressed out and miserable. Your child's health, happiness, and well being is more important than anything else. I agree life is not a race. They have to enjoy the journey, not just focus on the destination.

    Your child just turned 13. They just became a teenager. Let them enjoy their childhood. Let them explore different hobbies and interests. Let them spend time with their friends. You don't want to have a child that will come to resent you later in life if they feel so much stress and pressure. Allow them to explore different career paths.

    When it is time to apply to colleges realize there are so many schools so don't get hung up on one dream school. We had three high school classmates take their life when they didn't get admitted to their dream school.

    High school years sometimes feels like a pressure cooker and it shouldn't be that way. Many kids are sleep deprived because they have too much on their plate. Teach your child ways to cope with stress. A child maybe academically very intelligent but may lack mental maturity that only comes with experience and age. The college years age 18 to 22 is a time of tremendous mental growth and experience with becoming independent. Teach you child to become an independent thinker so that they are able to make good decisions on their own.

    I wish someone had told me all these things when my own child was that age. I am sharing what I have learned from my own experience as a parent of a senior in college.
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  • ScienceGirlMomScienceGirlMom 423 replies23 threads 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.

    There are a lot of colleges that give credit for AP classes; you just need to do your research on the schools in advance.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83306 replies740 threads 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.
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  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 41239 replies479 threads 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...
    edited October 2017
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  • tangentlinetangentline 1112 replies8 threads 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?
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  • bookwormbookworm 9250 replies74 threads 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.
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