Go Against the Flow
In a previous post I encouraged summer school attendance as a key way to save both time and money in college. But any time the topic of summer school comes up so do objections such as, “But I need to work in the summer,” and, “But by the time summer comes I’m ready for a break.” However, both these concerns can be addressed if students can think about attendance in an even more contrarian fashion.
Again, students typically think of the school year as consisting of a fall and a spring semester, followed by a summer off. Now, what if the student reconsiders the timing of that break? What if, instead of summers off and the other semesters on, you spent the summer in school and took one of the other semesters off? A few very advantageous things would happen. Firstly, you may pay less in total tuition with summer courses costing less as we’ve discovered. Secondly, much of your coursework would be compressed into shorter periods of time. Thirdly, consider the income side of this bargain. When do most college kids seek full-time work in earnest? Summers, and so during this stretch you face the most competition for jobs. Your job prospects just might get a boost if you came along in the fall semester able to fill the post-summer job vacuum. By considering such an option you can enjoy all the benefits of summer school and get to enjoy a break, too. It might be worth doing, if nothing else, for one of your years.
Year Round Attendance
What’s the quickest way to get out of college early for a career head start and substantial savings in tuition, fees and extraneous expenses? To take as many credit hours as you can for as extended a period as necessary. Ultimately, a student driven to get a degree for degree’s sake and not so inclined to the experience factors should consider ripping through the requirements in steady, linear fashion. Nothing says one has to accept taking a semester off each year as the norm.
While an increasing number of students take six years to get a degree, quite a number of students also regularly compress their four-year stints into three. They treat schooling like a race and get to it, not letting up until they have crossed the finish line. They keep a single-minded focus on their educational mission, treating much of the rest as distraction.
Doing so may preclude earning an employment income. However, many can attend college without a substantial need for employment thanks to sufficient resources such as family help and good financial aid packages. Many will front-load their employment by taking off a year between high school graduation and college enrollment to work and thereby generate enough proceeds to last them the remainder of the time. Some may justify this decision by offsetting potential loans with the extra year they gain in post-college employment. All serious degree seekers should consider the year-round attendance option and calculate the scenario against the more typical four-or-more year approach to see if it makes sense to their situation.