Students who have a plan to graduate and stick with it are more likely to earn a degree they want, while those without a plan may find themselves wasting time and money on the wrong classes and credits. Plan on finishing faster with Learn More Indiana’s tips for success.
Check out community colleges & regional campuses
If you are planning on a four-year degree, you may be able to start your college education at a two-year community college. Community college courses are cheaper and many transfer directly to Indiana’s four-year institutions. Check TransferIN.net to see how courses transfer among Indiana’s colleges.
If you are planning on attending the main campus of a public university, there may be a more affordable regional campus in your area. Regional campus courses may also transfer to private colleges, but you’ll have to check with the college or visit TransferIN.net.
If you are planning to transfer, make sure you talk to the receiving college where you plan to earn your degree. Just because a course transfers among two institutions doesn’t mean it can be applied towards the specific degree you hope to earn. Tell your advisor that you want to take courses that count toward the degree program you’re studying, not courses that will only transfer as elective credits.
Try summer school
Earning credits in the summer could help you earn your degree in fewer semesters. Some colleges even discount their tuition rates during the summer semester, so it pays to ask. See which courses your college offers, or enroll at a community college or regional campus to save money on tuition.
A summer internship will provide valuable experience and help guide your career path. But, don’t make the mistake of thinking summer school and internships are necessarily incompatible. Many colleges offer first session or “Maymester” courses for just the month of May, allowing you to earn a few credits before starting an internship. You may also be able to take an evening or online course. Don’t forget to check out local community colleges, which usually offer many summer and online options.
Commit to a major
The most important thing you can do to finish college on time is commit to a college major—the subject you will spend the most time studying. Changing your major will change your graduation requirements and is likely to make some of the courses you’ve already taken invalid for your new requirements.
You can make sure your major is right for you by exploring your skills and interests. You should also talk to professionals in your field to make sure you’ll like the job after you graduate. An internship can help you decide, too.
If you’re not sure which careers are a good fit for you, sign up for the Indiana Career Explorer to browse career profiles and use many other free resources.
Create a completion plan
Having a plan is the only way to know where you’re going. Read about creating a college completion plan, and commit to finishing the courses you select. Some semesters might be tough, but you will be proud of yourself for completing college with as little debt as possible.
Prepare for 15 to finish
If you are a full-time college student, you should prepare yourself to take at least 15 credits each fall and spring semester. Otherwise, you may not be able to earn all the credits you’ll need to graduate on time. Additional semesters could cost you thousands of dollars, even if you’re only taking one class.
If you are attending college part-time, work with your campus advisor to create a course plan that works for your circumstances and puts you on track to graduate as soon as possible. Remember that time is the enemy: the longer it takes you to complete, the less likely you are to graduate.
You’ll also want to consider the length of time aid is available. For financial aid from the State of Indiana (for those students who first enroll after July 1, 2011), you have eight years from the date you first receive financial aid to use your four years of aid eligibility. Students may receive up to the equivalent of 12 full-time semesters of Federal Pell Grant funding, starting from the first time you received the grant.
Double dip on courses
If you’re still in high school, take advantage of dual-credit courses that allow you to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Often the cost is less than it would be if you were taking the course as a college student, too. Check to make sure the class will transfer to your prospective colleges before signing up.
In college, you can double dip on courses, too. Your college advisor should help you create a college graduation plan which details which courses you’ll need for your major(s) and minor(s) each semester. You can finish your degree faster and save money on tuition if you plan to take courses that count towards two or more requirements. For example, a British literature course may fulfill a general education requirement at your college while also counting toward your literature major and your history minor.
Get help on campus
If you find yourself struggling in any of your classes or you know that your math skills are in need of a brush-up, there are plenty of academic resources to help you – and the sooner you seek them out, the better off you’ll be.
Sniff out graduation bonuses
Some of Indiana’s colleges have committed to helping students graduate on time by offering graduation incentives such as lower tuition. See if your campus offers a graduation bonus, and make your graduation promise today.