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How to Graduate Early, or Just on Time

Test Out: If you already have extensive knowledge in a particular subject area, you can earn credit by "passing out" of it. There are 33 different CLEP exams that can help students earn college credit for basic subjects like English, history, mathematics, science, and foreign languages. These exams test you over material that is covered in college courses that are typically taken within the first two years of school. By taking a few hours out of your day to take this exam, you could save yourself from having to complete a semester-long course. But before you choose to take a CLEP exam, make sure that the college you are attending will grant you credit for passing the exam by searching the CLEP College Search Web site.

Declare Early: You can't begin the quickest path to your degree until you know what that degree is going to be in, so declare a major early and commit to sticking with it. Most schools don't let you officially declare a major until you have completed a certain amount of hours, but if you already know what you want to major in you can begin talking to your advisor about what courses you can begin taking early. This is important because declaring late or changing majors during college can cause you to lose credit you have already earned or require you to take more courses to earn enough credit. This can add up rather quickly and before you know it you may find yourself having to be in school an extra semester or even year.

Eliminate breaks: Yes, this means summer school, it also means a little thing that they call a "mini mester," which allows you to complete a college course in between getting your Christmas shopping done. During the summer, most colleges offer two summer sessions in which students are allowed to take a maximum of two courses in each. By taking two classes each session you can complete four classes in one summer, which is almost a full semester. Minimesters are even more intense classes that are shorter as they are offered between semesters like during Christmas break. Don't worry if you have to move home during the summer to save rent money, you can still progress toward your degree. Many general courses are offered at community colleges during the summer, which may even be less demanding and more flexible than at a university. But before enrolling in a course, talk with your advisor and make sure that the credits are transferrable.

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