Graduating in 3 Years

<p>Tonight, my mom presented me with the idea of taking extra classes every summer and getting my BA in 3 years instead of 4 to save money. My initial response was to reject this idea (which did not make my mom too happy) but I was wondering if anyone knows of any Swatties getting their degrees in 3 years instead of 4. Is it even possible? Would I still be able to do honors? Would doing so mean I would forgo my social life in college? As of now I am really iffy on the notion....</p>

<p>I do not see anything in the degree requirements that would prevent you from graduating in three years. However, I would e-mail the registrar's office and ask Martin Werner, if this becomes a critical issue for you.</p>

<p>As a practical matter, you would probably want to take the max of five courses per semester, which would leave you two short of the required 32 after three years. You may have AP credits for those two. The biggest difficulty you will face is that it is not easy to get Swarthmore credit for courses you have taken elsewhere.</p>

<p>You plan would, in all likelihood, preclude you from studying abroad. I honestly don't know how honors would work in a case like that. I think you would be biting off a pretty big challenge and would have to sacrifice some of the opportunities that Swarthmore presents.</p>

<p>The more I think about it, you need to give Martin Werner a call and talk through the ramifications.</p>


<p>What your mom is proposing is possible at large state universities offering classes year round. However, most small liberal arts schools do not offer regular classes during the summer. Therefore, it would require attending classes elsewhere and having the credits transferred back to Swarthmore. </p>

<p>I seriously doubt that Swarthmore would agree to "transfer" or accept the equivalent of two semesters worth of courses completed during "summers" at other institutions just for the purpose of graduating early. I am sure that many students do programs in the summer which are somehow related to their majors or areas of interest, but these would be in addition to, not in lieu of. It seems to me that taking summer courses at other insitutions just for the purpose of graduating early would seriously defeat the real purpose of a attending a school like Swarthmore.</p>

<p>I teach at a large state university where many students do just what your mom is suggesting and it saddens me that these students are not able to experience the real value of an undergraduate education which entails having time for reflection and for other "out of classroom" experiences. </p>

<p>Good luck in convincing Mom.</p>


<p>When I posted, I had not read ID's reply. </p>

<p>I would strongly recommend against taking 5 courses each and every semester at a school like Swarthmore. One of the great advantanges of attending a small liberal arts school, with small classes being taught by professors who are experts in their fields, is having the opportunity to explore in depth the subject matter of your courses. Taking 5 courses every semester would impair being able to effectively do this, specially if you are considering doing honors. Moreover, Swatties tend to be involved in all sorts of other extracurricular activities and I just don't see how you would be able to handle such a heavy load and still be able to do what Swatties do when not working on academics.</p>

<p>It is possible, or at least it was in the early 1970s. I know of one person in my entering class who graduated a year early. Of course, in my view, they were off the charts scary smart, even for Swarthmore. </p>

<p>As ID and dramatica have said, it is problematical to get Swarthmore credit for summer classes taken elsewhere, and you would have to come in with a load of AP credits that counted for Swarthmore credits. I would seriously not advise trying to do it at a school like Swarthmore. If the object is to save money, go to Big State U where you could take summer courses and graduate in 3 years, and save money on tuition in the bargain. Their policy on granting AP credit would probably be more liberal than Swarthmore's, to boot.</p>

<p>Having a brother who graduated with honors from Swarthmore, I can tell you that Swarthmore is not a place where you want to put extra pressure on yourself with the pressure you will be facing already. Tell you mother you want to enjoy your years at Swarthmore, it will be worth the little extra debt. Plus, in this economy, there is no rush to leave college as fast as you can.</p>

<p>Perhaps the approach could be to take as many courses as you COMFORTABLY can locally in one year, and then transfer to Swat for your last 2 or 2 1/2 years. You really would have to work with the Swat admissions office to make sure you are able to do this.
Taking classes all year, especially at the maximum credits, can be very draining. Having that summer break to work other parts of your brain, get additional experiences, and make some money are critical to your sanity! Think about what your resume looks like at the end of 3 years. If I had two applicants for a job, and one has a degree from Swat in 3 years but no real-life experiences during that time, and I have one with a degree from Swat in 4 years with some summer jobs that taught them how to survive in the real world, i'd hire the 4 year graduate.</p>

I would strongly recommend against taking 5 courses each and every semester at a school like Swarthmore.


<p>Absolutely agree. I think it is a major mistake to take five the first semester freshman year before you even know what kind of a challenge you are up against. Many of the people who take five wear themselves to a frazzle.</p>

<p>Thanks for all of the replies! I guess I didn't give all the background info. My mom is a professor at NYU and therefore I can take classes there for free. I would take summer classes/summer study abroad at NYU in order to get those extra credits. Do you think Swat wouldn't take NYU credits?</p>

<p>S (Swat 08) had enough AP credits that he fulfilled his credit requirements a semester early, but he hadn't fulfilled his major requirements & wouldn't have been able to do honors unless he stayed for 4 full years. Graduating early was never a consideration. To echo others, I'd check with the registrar on how they'd treat transfer credits from NYU.</p>

<p>I think Swarthmore would take NYU credits that fit the Swat curriculum, but only in the instances that you receive a grade A or higher.</p>

<p>Here's what the Swarthmore course catalog has to say on the subject:</p>

<p>Graduating in 3 years:</p>

<p>"Although the normal period of uninterrupted work toward the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees is 4 years, graduation in 3 years is freely permitted when a student can take advantage of Advanced Placement credits, perhaps combining them with extra work by special permission. In such cases, students may qualify for advanced standing—they may become juniors in their second year. To qualify for advanced standing, a student must (1) do satisfactory work in the first semester; (2) obtain 14 credits by the end of the first year; (3) intend to complete the degree requirements in 3 years; and (4) signify this intention when she or he applies for a major by writing a sophomore paper during the spring of the first year."</p>

<p>Credit for work done elsewhere and in the summer:</p>

<p>"Students who wish to receive Swarthmore College credit for work at another school must obtain preliminary approval and after-the-fact validation by the chair of the Swarthmore department or program concerned. Preliminary approval depends on adequate information about the content and instruction of the work to be undertaken and ensures the likelihood of the work's applicability toward the Swarthmore degree as well as clarifies the amount of Swarthmore credit likely. Preliminary approval is tentative. Final validation of the work for credit depends on evaluation of the materials of the course, including syllabus, transcript, written work, examinations, indication of class hours, and so forth. Work in other programs, especially summer school programs, may sometimes be given less credit than work at Swarthmore, but this will depend on the nature of the program and the work involved. Validation may include an examination, written or oral, administered at Swarthmore. All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Credit for AP and similar work is discussed in section 4.5. </p>

<p>An official transcript from the other school must be received by the Registrar's Office before validated work can be recorded for credit. By College policy, in order for work done elsewhere to be granted Swarthmore College credit, the grade for that work must be the equivalent of a straight C or better, but a better than C grade does not in itself qualify for Swarthmore credit.</p>

<p>Students who wish to receive natural sciences and engineering practicum (NSEP) credit for courses taken elsewhere must obtain preliminary approval for the course from the department involved as well as final validation as with other credit. The department can approve NSEP credit if the course is comparable with a Swarthmore NSEP course. Generally, courses taken elsewhere that are not comparable with a Swarthmore NSEP will not receive NSEP credit; however, in exceptional cases, if NSEP criteria are satisfied elsewhere, the department chair may recommend NSEP credit award to the Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering for its final decision.</p>

<p>Requests for credit must be made within the semester following the term in which the work was done. Credit is lost if a student takes a course at Swarthmore that essentially repeats the work covered by the credit."</p>

<p>given your username ... are you planning on playing LAX @Swarthmore? ... I'd think the 3 year plan and pursuing ECs while at Swarthmore are probably mutually exclusive (unless you can get a ton of AP credits). PS - you might want to search for the other threads on this topic ... there a bunch on the pros and cons of cutting back to 3 years.</p>

<p>To translate some of the requirements from the Swarthmore catalog, to graduate in 3 years according to Swarthmore's procedure:
1) You need to have 14 credits by end of your first year.
2) You could do this by having 4 AP credits and taking 5 credits each of your first 2 semesters.
3) You need special permission to make more than 5 credits per semester, and it's not recommended and probably not often granted, especially to first year students.
4) While it is quite possible to get 4 or more AP credits, individual departments have their own standards for granting these credits, in many cases requiring both a high AP test score and taking another course in that department. This is not an impossible hurdle, but is a significant complication in getting those 4 credits granted by end of your first year.</p>

<p>I think you need to hop on the train or make an appointment during Ride the Tide to sit down for a meeting with Martin Werner, the registrar and discuss the possibilities. You are getting great info here, but Werner has herded thousands of students through Swarthmore College and would be the expert.</p>

<p>Wow this has really helped me a lot! So from the looks of it, only taking summer intensives would not be enough to graduate early. I would actually have to take 5 courses a semester AT swarthmore? If that's the case then I definently will not be persuing this any further. My mom suggested the idea to me thinking that I could just take the summer courses at NYU for free and these would give me enough credit by my junior year to graduate early. </p>

<p>@ 3togo: I am playing lax at Swat and I plan on doing lots of ECs so that's why I would only pursue this if I could get enought credit during the summers. Since it looks like they won't allow me to do this I will probably just go the normal route!</p>

<p>Thanks again everyone for all of the help and advice!</p>

<p>I had a friend who graduated early last year, and I actually would be able to graduate early, even with Honors (though I plan to stay the full four years). It can be done, though certainly not in every case. </p>

<p>If you will have many AP credits (check Swarthmore</a> College :: Advising Handbook :: III. Placement, Credit, and Registration to see what will count) and don't plan on a time-intensive major (engineering, music, or any of the sciences which will require many lab courses), it might be doable. Certainly if you plan to participate in credit-granting extracurriculars like College Chorus or Gamelan ensemble, that will make it easier. </p>

<p>The question is, do you want to? Swarthmore is an amazing place with lots of opportunities, so unless your financial situation demands it, I wouldn't recommend it. </p>

<p>If you do end up wanting to graduate in three years, you might consider instead taking a year's leave of absence and going abroad to work or get an internship during what would be your junior year--that way you are only paying three years of tuition, but you get some real-world experience and graduate on time with your entering class. You also have the option to take a semester off during junior year and take classes elsewhere in the US (more cheaply)--you'll be able to transfer some of that credit back. </p>

<p>Good luck! And interesteddad is right--if you are still seriously considering this as of Ride the Tide, an appointment with Martin Warner might be a good idea. He's a great guy, and really helpful.</p>

You also have the option to take a semester off during junior year and take classes elsewhere in the US (more cheaply)--you'll be able to transfer some of that credit back.


<p>There's your NYU angle, even if you only picked up credit for a few courses. Likewise, there may be an angle to do it in 3.5 semesters, taking a semester off for travel abroad.</p>

<p>I think if I were you, I'd e-mail Warner, tell him that you are interested in at least humoring your mother's not-unreasonable "what if" question, and sit down with him just to explore some of the options Swatties have pursued in the past and pros/cons.</p>

<p>That's a really good idea etselec.</p>

<p>I will take your advice interesteddad, and talk to Martin Warner. I'd not really interested in overloading my schedule each semester but I am planning on doing study abroad/semester abroad so i'll speak to him about that. Even saving money for one semester would be nice.</p>

<p>Thanks again for all of your help! I really appreciate it!</p>

<p>oh DEAR.
as a transfer student, i can assure you that transferring credits into swat is NOT easy, no matter how prestigious the school they are being transferred from (mine were so uneven that although i entered college intending to graduate in 2010, swat placed me in c/o 2011). martin warner can only tell you, after much deliberation, if you'll be awarded a full credit or half credit for your course taken at another institution, and whether it will count as a natural science, social science, or humanities credit. despite this, the department in question might not accept this credit or count it towards department-specific distribution requirements, especially if it's a credit for a department you'll be majoring or minoring in. to find this out, you'll need to meet with the head of that department, and getting the answer might not be easy (a transfer friend will be glad to tell you her poli sci transfer credit horror story). if you want to go through with this plan, please do think about it in advance! pick out the courses you'll want to take at nyu--all of them, to the best of your ability--and then bring them and the information about the courses (syllabi, if you can) to martin warner. once he tells yo how much credit you'll receive for them, take this information to the individual departments. seriously, this is the only way to avoid major drama later, when it might be too late and you've wasted lots of time!</p>

<p>beyond that, i think everyone has made a really good case for why you should avoid doing this. taking courses for free at nyu might be appealing, but you'll get so much more out of four years in the community. i wish i had that opportunity.</p>