The 5 Stages of Graduating Early

Some people were able to push through a ton of AP work in high school, while others took dual enrollment or their max course load every semester. Regardless of how you accomplished it, graduating early is pretty exciting...and terrifying. There are feelings of fear, doubt and hesitation. However, these feelings are incredibly normal! Graduating early has its perks and downfalls. These are the five stages of graduating early I went through. I'm sure if you're graduating early (or already did), you can relate. 

  1. 1. The Decision

    Graduating early is great! Honestly, you’re saving a year’s (more or less) worth of tuition and moving forward with your life. It may not be an easy choice. There are a lot of things to consider, including leaving your friends earlier, being a part of the “real world” and taking on more responsibility. Despite this, taking the plunge and deciding you want to pursue graduating early is the first step to this crazy process.

  2. 2. Panic Mode

    Now that the decision is made, it’s time to figure out how you’re actually going to do this. Who has time to fit in these six extra classes you still need to graduate? Planning ahead is your best friend. What are you going to do post-graduation? Who knows? All you know is that you need to figure out how you are going to do this without completely burning out (or crying every single day).

  3. 3. Wake-up Call

    Your friends are starting to look for apartments for next year without you. Your favorite club is looking for a new president for the upcoming school year. You realize that if you’re going to be applying to graduate school, you need to start taking admissions tests and preparing applications. How is everything coming up so quickly? The realities of your decision are hitting you all at once and honestly, it’s incredibly overwhelming. 

  4. 4. Reconsideration

    After your wake-up call, you’ll probably start to reconsider if this is even what you want to do. You don’t want to leave your friends. You don’t want to be a part of the real world yet — you want some more time goofing off with minimal consequences. What’s another year? You can pick up a second major, take a bunch of easy A classes to bump your GPA or just take some classes you’re interested in, but didn’t have time to take before. Anything so you won’t have to leave the place you’ve called home for the past couple of years. 

  5. 5. Acceptance

    After considering all your options, you realize that graduating early really is the best thing to do. Sure, it’s not all fun and games, but in the end, you are going to have your college degree. You’re going to get to the next stage in your life and see what that brings. You’re a step closer to your goals — and no one can take that away from you. You’re going to work hard, get that degree and have a party (because you deserve it)!

If you're contemplating graduating early or this is your last semester, just remember you're not alone. Graduating early is a tough decision to make, but it's so worth it in the end. You have your degree, which is incredible to do in any amount of time, but under four years is a whole other monster. Keep your head up early grads, you're going to accomplish amazing things!

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