Speeding through college can come with benefits. Although you may need to rely more heavily on student education loans while in school, you are able to jump in to the workforce faster to start paying off the loans you accrued to complete school.
Plus, you don’t have to eat bland cafeteria meals for as long.
But could it be worth finishing college faster if you are playing more debt?
The answer will depend on your specific situation. Here’s how to weigh the expense of speeding through college and how it could affect your financial future.
How to weigh the costs of the speedy degree with your post-graduation salary
You’ll have to weigh a number of factors when making this big decision. Here are some things to keep in mind.
The return on investment
The key number you’ll want to concentrate on when evaluating whether or not you should speed using your degree is the ROI, AKA your return on investment. In other words, will the monetary investment into your degree be worth the monetary rewards later on?
To get started, take a moment to analyze just how much you are likely to earn inside your first year on the job. After you have that first year’s salary in your mind, it’s a good idea to not rack up anymore debt .
Here’s an example to think about. Let’s say that you need to turn your biology degree right into a career as a high school science teacher. Based on Salary.com, the average salary range for any high school science teacher is between $47,172 to $62,718.
If you stick to a conservative estimate of the first-year salary, you might not need to take on a lot more than $47,172 in student loan debt.
So, if you're able to avoid taking on more than about $47,000 in debt, then graduating early might be the smart move. But when you’ll need to take on more debt, you may want to slow down the pace to make use of income opportunities while in school to avoid dealing with too much education loan debt.
The traditional college experience is really a standard 4 years. For many, the time spent at college is definitely an invaluable method to build connections that will carry forward into your future.
Although it can be impossible to place $ 1 amount around the network you build in college, it could assist you in the long run. Additionally, the private relationships you build with your classmates over the course of four years are useful for a different way.
You should consider the costs of school and the ultimate ROI on your chosen degree. But don’t overlook the need for building lasting relationships with your peers. You may decide that taking on a little bit more debt is worthwhile to savor the “full college experience.”
Should you speed through college if you have to take on more debt?
So, should you speed through college to jump into the workforce as quickly as possible? Or should you listen to it slow and make use of the opportunities open to students?
Here’s if this makes sense
When you realize precisely what you need to be when you grow up
If you have determined exactly what for you to do with your degree, then speeding through can be a smart move.
For example, you might be set on a job path that will need several years of graduate school. At that time, you might choose to sprint through your undergraduate degree to shorten the total amount of your time you spend in school.
You’ll save money by working sooner
Another scenario that could make sense to complete college faster is that if you determine that you’ll spend less money in the long run by diving right into a lucrative career sooner.
You’ll need to run the numbers of your chosen profession to ascertain if this will make sense for you personally.
Here’s when it doesn’t make sense
You need a job to help you pay for college
If you're pushing you to ultimately graduate in under four years, then you will probably not have time to take on employment of any sort. With no income, you might be instructed to take on more student loan debt inside a shorter amount of time.
Make sure that the ROI examines prior to committing to this course of action.
You can’t handle a challenging course load
Beyond the direct financial costs of sprinting through your education, consider whether or not it's possible and prepared to commit to a strenuous course load.
Graduating from college is not a simple feat, but graduating early is particularly challenging. With this, you shouldn’t invest in an accelerated track if you aren’t able to commit to the long nights in the library.
You possess a lot of non-education related obligations
Additionally, an incredibly full college course load leaves little time for other obligations. You may have to forgo other opportunities, for example internships or study abroad programs that you follow your rigorous class schedule.
You don’t know what you want to do with your degree
Finally, if you aren’t quite sure exactly what you intend to use your college education, then speeding through is not a good idea. Instead, you should expect to modify your major along the way, which will likely mean you can't jump to graduation in less than four years.
Advantages and downsides of speeding through college
Speeding through college can come with some additional challenges that the average student might not face, but you’ll also have the potential to reap the benefits of efficiently finishing school in front of schedule.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of finishing college early.
Pros of finishing college quickly
Let’s tackle the professionals first:
- Access your earning power. The biggest benefit of finishing college in front of schedule may be the possibility to tap into your earning power as quickly as possible.
- Start your climb up the career ladder faster. The logical consequence of finishing college is that you’ll have the ability to dive to your career as soon as possible. You can begin working towards career goals that could take years to achieve.
- Potential chance to avoid extra student education loans. Fewer years in class can lead to a lower overall education loan debt burden for many students. Although this will not be true for those students, you might be able to save if you don’t attend your fourth year of college.
- Move to another chapter of your life. Beyond the financial considerations, you might decide that finishing school quickly may be the right option for your life. You could start graduate school opportunities after completing your degree or benefit from the control you've over your lifestyle choices within the “real life.”
Cons of finishing college quickly
Here are some cons to consider as well:
- Less time for you to work while in college. If you choose to focus on your classes to finish school faster, then it's likely that you won’t have the time to work while going to school. That may result in taking on more debt to pay for your costs.
- Missed opportunities. You may miss out on the standard opportunities available to college students, such as time-consuming internship opportunities or networking and skill-building opportunities that you simply don’t have the time for.
- A focused path leaves little space for your other interests. You might possibly not have the chance to take an elective course that really interests you or participate in research abroad program that excites you.
How to prevent student loans
Whether you choose to sprint towards the finish line or benefit from the full four-year experience, there are ways to keep the student loan debt burden in check.
You might be surprised to learn there are vast amounts of dollars available to students in the form of scholarships, grants, work-study opportunities, and employer-sponsored teaching programs. With these opportunities, you'll be able to avoid or minimize your education loan debt.
As students looking for ways to make their higher education an efficient experience, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of graduating faster on your own. The good news is that there is not really a single solution which will work best for everyone. Instead, you need to run the numbers and strike an account balance that makes sense for you personally.