Affording your four years at IU: Tip #2

My dad always told me that with each year comes more responsibility. Meaning: I would work more, pay for more and plan more. This was his way of nudging me out of the nest. 

My dad was a huge advocate for summer classes. "Take the classes you don't have an interest in during the summer. You get them over with in a shorter time frame and you can do it all from your bed." 

I snubbed my nose at this the summer after my freshman year. I wanted the mental break that summers in high school always allowed me. I quickly learned that summers in college are lengthy and better with some brain stimulation. I took his advice the summer after sophomore year. 

Here's tip #2: your guide to summer classes. 

Take online classes. 

General education requirements are annoying and often boring. I think we all question why we have to take classes we have no interest in, but since it is required, my suggestion is to take at least two GenEd courses during the summer. Summer classes are completed in eight weeks or less and if you take them online you never have to step foot in a classroom. Did someone say open book? Not sure it can get any better than that. 

IU vs Ivy Tech.

IU (Bloomington, Southeast, Indianapolis, East, Fort Wayne, Kokomo, Northwest, South Bend) offer a handful of online courses during the summer, but so does Ivy Tech. Compare costs and figure out what the best option is financially. I always went the Ivy Tech route. There is a designated IU course transfer list that makes choosing GenEd courses easily. Whatever you do, don't steer away from this list. Double and triple check that every credit transfers correctly.

It's the fast track to graduation. 

Putting in the work during the summer could get you to graduation faster than the average student.

Take a look at my college plan: 

Fall 2010/Spring 2011: 6 credits (math+English that I took in high school for dual credit)

Summer 2011: 0 credits (college prep was enough)

Fall 2011: 15 credits

Spring 2012: 14 credits

Summer 2012: 0 credits

Fall 2012: 15 credits  

Spring 2013: 15 credits  

Summer 2013: 6 credits  

Fall 2013: 15 credits

Spring 2014: 12 credits (this is when I learned that I was ahead of the game and could afford to cut back if I took summer classes.)

Summer 2014: 6 credits

Fall 2014: 13 credits (easy last semester of college) 

I graduated a semester early, but this is what I would have done if I had wanted to graduate in three years: 

  1. Avoid taking general education classes during the school year, they are the classes most often offered during the summer
  2. Taken 9 credits each summer
  3. Taken another dual credit course in high school 

It's entirely possible to finish early. ESPECIALLY if you have your major decided and declared by the end of freshman year. Changing majors or not declaring early enough can really set you back. Yes, summer classes do cost money, but not nearly as much as tuition each semester combined with university fees. Like I said in tip #1, graduating early means banking that tuition money. 

Talk with your advisor every semester before you schedule classes. 

If you're interested in the fast track path, make sure you let your advisor know. Don't let them bully you into thinking you can't do it. Shout out to Lauren Kinzer at the journalism school, she and I worked together every semester on my schedule. Like clockwork, as soon as scheduling time rolled around I made an appointment to meet with her. All advisors do things differently. Your options are usually walk-in hours (you'll end up waiting for an hour or more), sign-up sheets or an online appointment process.Once a time was set, Lauren and I would sit down and write out every requirement I had left. Make sure your advisor keeps a copy of this list for your file. If there is ever a discrepancy, you have it all in writing (my roommate had a bad experience). Lauren suggested that I graduate early and I owe her for the honesty. 

But I love college!

So did I. We all do, but by the time I was done with my junior year, I felt I'd had my fill. I'd done everything I wanted to do, a lot of my friends were graduating or had graduated and I was simply tired of sitting in a classroom. I was ready to put my skills to work and make some money.  

It's worth thinking it over! Tip #3 on financial aid coming soon. 

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