How to Graduate on Time – College Info Geek
Hey guys! Let’s step away from the specific
study techniques and tactics today and talk about something a little bit more overarching.
Graduation! According to the federal government’s education
statistics, only about 59% of the students who started college in 2006 graduated within
six years. Those numbers get even worse when we go down to four years. According to a study
from College Complete America, only between 19 and 36% of students, based on the type
of institution, graduate within that four-year time period. Why does this happen? Why do
so few students graduate on time? There are a lot of factors. The big one – the elephant
in the room – is finances, but there are a lot of other ones. Changing majors, changing
school, Netflix, Gabe Newell, Steam sales, Sharknados, all kinds of stuff.
One of the most common causes, and I think one of the most avoidable, is simply poor
planning. That’s why, in this quick video, I want to show you the way that I planned
my own graduation out and how it helped me graduate in four years. Essentially, my philosophy
since I was a freshman was that my graduation was really in my own hands. Yes, I had an
academic advisor and he was great, but I knew that he had hundreds of students that he had
to deal with and the person who was most responsible for me being able to graduate in four years
was me. That’s why, every single semester, I made
sure that I looked over all the graduation requirements, and I mean all of them. General
education requirements, major-specific requirements, the number of credits I was required to have
to graduate, all that stuff, and made sure that I was on track to hit them all.
That meant keeping all the requirement documents in my Dropbox and making sure I knew exactly
where they were at any given time, but I went beyond that. I actually created an Excel spreadsheet
that charted out my entire graduation plan and listed out every class that I intended
to take. I also threw a couple of simple formulas in there to add up the numbers of all these
credits from the classes I was going to take and make sure that they hit the requirements
– both the overall credit limit and the over 300 level credit limit.
If you only get one thing out of this video, it’s that you should create a similar plan
of your own, and if you go to the companion blog post for this video, I’ve actually included
my own plan for you to download and copy off of. You can find that link down in the description,
or you’ll find an annotation in the end card after the video is done.
The next thing I want to talk about, though, is something that at least at my school was
called a Degree Audit. I know it’s called a Degree Audit at several other schools around
the country. Maybe it’s called something different at your school, but essentially it was something
that I could run on the computer, or have my academic advisor run, that would show me
my exact progress through all my required classes.
The cool thing about my school’s Degree Audit system is that you could actually run it for
a major you weren’t in. My roommate wanted to switch from Computer Science to MIS one
year, and he thought that it would take him a lot longer to sort of catch up. After running
a Degree Audit, he found out that he was actually further into the major he wanted to switch
into than he was into his own major. So if you have access to any kind of tool like this,
I highly recommend running it on a regular basis and if you don’t personally know how
to do it, ask your academic advisor. Running regular Degree Audits and making sure
you have an accurate graduation plan that you edit whenever you get a new interest or
decide to drop a class you had planned to take is going to help you graduate on time.
There’s one other piece of the puzzle that you want to make sure you have. That is simply
signing up for classes on time. Even if you plan well, a lot of times you’ll find that
classes fill up very quickly, or maybe they’re not available during a certain semester. The
best way you can mitigate this is putting a reminder on your calendar to sign up for
classes the moment you’re able to. I know a lot of people who waited a week or
two after their sign-up date to sign up for classes, only to find out the classes they
wanted were full. At best, it’s an elective class and you just don’t get to take it, you
have to find a replacement, but at worst, it’s a required class and you end up tacking
an extra semester or two on to your graduation date.
The common thread in all this? Have a good plan, be vigilant whenever it changes, and
make sure you have it updated, and expose yourself to every advantage you can by signing
up early. One last thing, though. What if you do all
of this, and still there’s a class that you can’t sign up for because it’s full? One thing
you can try doing is testing out of required classes using CLEP tests and other methods.
I could do an entire video on this, but I’ve actually already done a podcast interview
on it with my friend Jay Cross, and if you click the annotation right there or down in
the description, you can listen to it. Jay is an expert on the subject, and he actually
tested out of an entire year of college classes using these methods.
That’s it for this video, hopefully you got something useful out of it, and like I said,
I’ll have my own Excel spreadsheet with my graduation plan available for download in
the blog post that goes with this video, so hit the link in the description or in the
end card if you want to look at it and use it as a template for your own plan.
Next week, I’m actually going to be in New York City hanging out with my co-host from
the Listen Money Matters podcast, Andrew, so if you see a video from me next week, it’ll
be in a different location because of that, and if not, I’m sorry, I just got really busy,
so we’ll see what happens. One last thing, though. There will be a surprise
coming from me tomorrow, so if you follow me on Twitter at @TomFrankly you’ll get to
see what that is. That’s all I got for this week, so thanks
for watching and I will see you in the next video.
Hey everybody! Thanks for watching my video on graduation planning. If you enjoyed it
and you want to get more videos every single week on improving your college experience
then hit that big red subscribe button right there. If you also want to get a free hundred-plus-page
book on improving your grades and studying less, then click the picture of the book and
I’ll send you a copy. You can find links to any resources I mentioned
in this post, including my Excel template, over at the companion blog post, which you
can find by clicking the orange logo right there. If you missed last week’s video, there’s
a clip of it playing, so definitely check it out and if you want to connect or suggest
any ideas for new videos, I’m on Twitter at @TomFrankly, or you can leave a comment on