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Graduating early is rare, but yields many rewards

By Hailey Mallendick, For The Miami Student

With the cost of tuition at Miami estimated at $30,000 for Ohio residents and $45,000 for non-residents, some students are graduating early to save thousands of dollars.

Emily Linn, a Miami alumna ('14), was able to earn her Bachelor's degree in only three years.

"I was going further into debt with every semester, so when I realized I could finish early, it just made sense," Linn said.

However, students choose to graduate early for more reasons than incurring less debt.

Rebecca Little, a 2015 alumna, graduated with a double major in only three years so she could travel.

"I wanted to spend more time living and being active and less time sitting in King or a classroom," Little said.

Junior Annie Rudy is hoping to finish a five-year degree in only four years. Rudy chose to graduate early because she realized she could earn both a bachelor's degree and Master of Accountancy in only four years.

"I do not think that I would have wanted to stay an extra year," Rudy said. "I discovered I could squeeze [my degree] into four years, so I went for it."

Linn, Little and Rudy had to pack their schedules to make early graduations possible. They said taking roughly six classes a semester - or about 18 credit hours - and earning AP credits in high school helped them achieve their goals of finishing their degrees early.

"Coming in with a lot AP credits did help, but I also think a lot of it had to do with taking [January] Term and summer session classes," Rudy said.

The credits from class sessions outside of the normal academic year gave Rudy about 15 extra credits for her major.

Linn said it can be stressful to take on the extra workload, but it is still possible to enjoy the college experience.

"I found I usually still had plenty of time left over for my social life," Linn said, "perhaps just not quite enough for sleeping."

While some students are able to complete their degrees early, it is also common for students to stay an extra year or two to complete a bachelor's degree.

According to the Miami University Office of Institutional Research, 78 percent of students graduate in five years or less, while only 1.6 percent of students graduate in three years. This data was last available for the class of 2011.

However, the few who complete their degrees early find that the extra year is unnecessary.

"If you can plan ahead and stay on top of things, it should not take five years to finish a bachelor's degree," said Linn. "That is where Miami could do better. They need to offer better advising to students who need it."

Little said she had to strategically plan her class schedule each semester to meet both of her major requirements.

"It definitely takes a lot of planning," Little said. "I spent a lot of time working the system and planning which classes to take which semester."

Even though Linn, Little and Rudy were able to finish their degrees early, they would not necessarily recommend it to a student who was getting a basic four-year bachelor's degree.

"If you can afford to stay a full four years, I would really recommend that," said Linn. "There are lots of electives I would have liked to have taken but I did not have time for them."

Little said she believes in having a full college experience.

"I think a lot of Miami students are more invested in having a true college experience," Little said. "They truly are having the time of their lives, which should never be rushed."