The math is pretty simple. A typical college load is four classes a semester, so in a year you're likely to take eight classes. To graduate a year early, you need to acquire eight classes worth of credit. You can do this a few ways:
- Take as many AP courses as you can. If you score 4s or 5s on the AP exam, most colleges will give you course credit. In some cases, a score of 3 will earn credit.
- If you have the option of an International Baccalaureate program, you can often earn college credit if you score well on your IB exams.
- If your high school has dual enrollment options with a local college, the credits you earn will often transfer to your undergraduate institution.
- Take all available placement exams when you arrive at college. Many colleges offer placement exams in subjects like language, math, and writing. If you can place out of a few requirements, you'll be in a better position to graduate early.
- Take community college courses for general education classes like writing, history, or introduction to psychology. Course credits will often transfer. Summer, even the summer before college, is a good time to rack up credits. Be sure to check with your college's Registrar first to make sure the course credits will transfer.
- If you plan to study abroad, pick your program carefully. You'll need to transfer credits back to your college, so you want a program where all of your course work is going to count towards graduation.
- Take the maximum number of credits allowed when you're in college. If you have a strong work ethic, you can pack more into a semester than the average student. By doing so, you'll fulfill all of your academic requirements sooner.
- With some professional programs such as engineering and education, graduating early is rarely an option (in fact, often students end up taking more than four years).