How Much You’ll Save by Graduating Early from College (And How I Did It)


That’s your prize money for graduating one year early from college!  If that amount of cash doesn’t get you jacked then you need to check your pulse!

Nearly 50% of your $100,000 can be had simply by graduating with a bachelor’s degree at age 21!  Graduating at 21 means you will have one full working year before reaching age 22.  $44,928 is the average starting salary of a typical recent college graduate.  By coming to you have already proven you’re smarter than average in which case I believe you can top the $50,000 per year mark.  Plus, I have spoken with many employers who love knowing a person has graduated early.

Earning that extra $44,928 will equal $1,759,614.15 at retirement of age 67 earning 8% interest!  This is very attainable!  This doesn’t even take the amount of money you will save by graduating early and saying goodbye to a year’s worth of tuition, room and board, books, etc.!  Perhaps you want to attend graduate school promptly after undergrad.  That’s fine too as I know $100k is still possible by age 22 without this extra working year.

Here’s how to grab your fancy sheet of paper in three years.


Step 1: Tune out the Haters

  • If someone tells you, “Why would you want to graduate early, college is awesome?!” College is awesome!  But we’re on this planet to do so many things with our lives.  Let’s graduate (while still having an unforgettable college experience) and see what else we are capable of doing!  For me after my freshman year I knew I could earn my diploma, it was just a matter of proving myself so I could walk across the stage.  Knowing this sapped my energy.  I knew I could do it.  I wanted to get on with my life to greater challenges.  That and making small amounts of money in college was not too fun.
  • If you watch the news for more than 3 seconds, you are likely to see Katie Couric’ sad puppy eyes peering into camera A, telling you about the scary world of college students. She will inform you that graduating college may take well over 4 years with massive amounts of debt.  Oh come on, Katie!  You’re too silly!  You just need to tune out Katie and her cohorts.  It is entirely possible to graduate early and debt-free.  I did it and I’m no special case study.

Step 2: Build credits ASAP

  • Earn credits while still in high school. These can be classes that double as high school credit as well as online. This is concurrent enrollment.  Or just simple take college courses taken online or on-campus.
  • Only fill the necessary credit hours and classes you need to graduate high school and then focus on college. Graduating with 10 extra high school credits is basically the dumbest thing you can do in this whole process.  Use your time getting 10 college credits.  Say those 10 high school credit hours (say, 3 classes) took you 18 hours a week to complete at a semester lasting 4 months.  That means to get those 10 high school credits it cost you 288 hours of your life.
  • You must make sure before starting any course that the credits will transfer to most universities (even if you have chosen your school, you still want to make sure the credits will transfer with you should you change your mind).
  • CLEP it. Short for College-Level Examination Program, these tests will prove you already know college material and therefore won’t have to waste your time taking the classes in college.
  • Test out of college courses. This will get you past those pesky prerequisites.

Step 3: Pick and stick

  • Pick, as early as you are comfortable, which university you will attend. When choosing, know how many credits it will take to graduate from each institution.  If you have two universities you would love to attend but can’t decide, look at the credit counts.  Perhaps one college requires 15 less credit hours.  If so, I think you’ve made your decision.
  • Pick your majors/minors. If you are a pre-med major and switch to English, you’re existing credits will likely not count towards your new major.  Having trouble choosing?  Take the general education courses early while you decide.  Be sure to save some of these courses for your final year though because it helps to take easy classes your last year while you hunt for a job, fill out graduate school entry applications, etc.

Step 4: Own Your School

  • Know every student on campus worth knowing. You know what I mean by this.  Maybe keep walking past the kid in the baja sweatshirt… just sayin’.When picking classes you need to know everyone.  Fellow students in-the-know will give you the low down on all the professors and classes.  Say there are two professors teaching the same class.  One is a jerk and one is cool.  You need to know who to choose to have as your professor.
  • Meet the graders. Say hello to every professor before taking a class with them.  They will appreciate being acknowledged outside the classroom.  Professors will remember you and when it comes time to ask them a favor, they will be more likely to help if they already know you.
  • Love your advisor. Colleges will assign you an advisor based on your major.  If you don’t like the advisor, go ahead and change.  I dumped a few advisors for various reasons.  Your relationship with your advisor is your most important relationship to build on campus.  This is the person who will help carry you to the graduation finish line.  My advisor even arranged a few one-on-one classes for me to help me reach my early graduation goal.  But remember… not one cares about your future as much as you do.  Do not rely on an advisor to do anything.  That person is there to help you map your own future.  DO NOT put your future in their hands and hope for the best.
  • Registrar staff will need to be your friends. They know if a class is filling up and can let you know to get your papers in quickly.  Baked goods will buy their loyalty.
  • Hello, Mrs. Librarian! Tech-savvy librarians are the best!  Should you need a resource that must be requested from another school or a new book to be ordered, your librarian is there to help.  If I should be so kind as to stereotype, most librarians love to be helpful.  I once got my librarian to order a completely off-topic book by Josh Flagg from Bravo’s show, Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles.  Josh Flagg is hilarious but wow that book does not belong anywhere near a place of higher learning.
  • Last but DEFINTIELY not least… the financial aid office. Here you will get all the information you need on the FAFSA, student loans, tuition hikes, dorm & meal price increases, and any other matters that are personal to your financial situation.  Oh this office is bliss for people reading this blog!  You can just go inside and proudly say, “And how much do I owe this fine educational institution???”  The nice lady will then say, “Why, good sir, you don’t even owe one penny!  Can we give you anything???  We know you’re on the straight path to giving this college millions in the future!”  This is how my visits to the financial aid office went.  More or less…  But really, sometimes I would stop by if I was having a bad day just to be reminded that I’m awesome.  That and because our financial aid lady was very pretty.  She actually said once that out of the 1,300 students that we had on campus, only about 3 of us would make regular visits.

Check out my upcoming part 2 and learn the final three steps to early graduation + $1,759,614.15!!!