you're reading...


#HonorsProblems: Graduating Early

The following blog post was written by Peer Advisor Kate, a CCAS senior studying statistics and economics. Kate is also one of the RAs for the West Hall Honors Community.

Kate with her Vern RA team!

My second day as a West RA, two residents stopped by with questions. I was expecting the standard “how do I submit a Fix-It?” or “why does the fire alarm keep going off all the time even though all I did was try to make popcorn in the microwave?”

I was surprised when she asked, “you’re graduating in three years, right? How do I do that?”

Two days later, I had an “event” (read: made cookies but counted it towards our programming requirement), with the intention of meeting the floor. After asking what people were majoring in, I got one particularly zesty answer: “I’m transferring to Milken, double majoring, and trying to graduate in three years. By the way, how do I do that?”

So yes, I am graduating early, which I’m really excited about! And I realize many others are considering it as well. If you’re among them, fear not! Allow this blog post to be your guide, and please, take a second to breathe. It’s going to be okay.

A smol year-one Kate, unsuspecting about the stress ahead

Step/Year 1: Set yourself up for success with a reasonable, realistic four three-year-plan. Reasonable means giving yourself wiggle room—don’t require 20 credit hours semesters! Don’t bank on getting ~exactly~ 120 credit hours—cushion with electives. And realistic means understanding when this is (or isn’t) possible to do. Can you leverage AP credits? Which summer classes you can take? If it’s not working, don’t force yourself to graduate in this weird timeline—it’s okay to do 3 + a summer, 3 + ½, or even (gasp) 4 years.


Kate with her peasant still-sophomore friends


Step/Year 2: Avoid panic about post-grad life. You’ll be lulled into a false sense of security, because your friends will be mere sophomores, and you’ll think you have a long way to go. You’ll realize you don’t. You’ll work yourself into a panic. But fear not—I learned that most real juniors don’t start thinking about graduation until now, either. Some smart ways to avoid this freak out, and feel on top of things:

  • Sign up for career coach emails, maximize chances of jobs/grad school!
  • Go to networking events.
  • Ask smart questions to parents, faculty, advisors, etc. to figure out what you want to do and how to get there, so you don’t waste your limited time.
  • Look for internships for the summer—your final year will be super busy, so you want to get experience before you start interviewing, not at the same time. We can all only do so much!

The night I got my first job offer–also Mark McKibbin’s birthday!

Step/Year 3: Figure out your post-grad plans! This bit isn’t much different than what your senior friends are going through, except that you got here a little too quickly! My biggest piece of advice—talk to your peers. The job search/grad school application processes both seem less intimidating when you hear from others in the same boat, and get advice from other smart kiddos.

Finally, please know: if you’re ambitious enough to attempt this, you shouldn’t be worrying about post-grad prospects liking you. In my experience, honors kids are kind, funny, smart people. They’d be crazy not to. I know I do!


P.S.: Anyone with more specific questions about graduating early, or how I personally was able to do it, should feel free to contact me at kjones409@gwu.edu.