How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500

How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years And Saved $37,500One thing that has been on my mind this month is how I graduated with my Finance MBA two years ago.

It feels like a lifetime ago, but then again it also feels like it was just yesterday.

This has also reminded me about how I graduated with my undergraduate degrees over 4 years ago. For some reason, people don’t believe that’s true, and I was even recently asked to provide proof from a reader…

I know, I have a baby face! The fact that I look a decade younger than I actually am is a whole ‘nother story though.

The main reason why I got so heavily into school was because I wanted to keep busy. I was a freshman in college when my father passed away.

I took four days off from my full-time job after he passed but I quickly went back to keep my mind off of everything that was going on around me. I then worked and went to school a crazy amount of hours to keep my mind off of it. This continued for years and it was my way of dealing with it all.

As a side note, I really didn’t mean for this post to turn slightly depressing but I’m just stating what happened.

There were other reasons for why I rushed through college as well:

  • You might save money. Many colleges (such as the one I went to) charge a flat tuition fee for those attending anywhere from 13 to 18 credit hours. So, whether you take 13 credits or 18 credits, you usually pay the exact same amount of money. Considering the average person takes around 12 to 13 credit hours each semester, that’s a lot of money wasted in my eyes.
  • You can move on quicker. It might be just me, but I couldn’t wait to be done with school. Since I finished so quickly, I was able to dedicate this free time towards something else.
  • You can (hopefully) earn a higher income sooner. Okay, so this isn’t always true, but many people go to college in hopes of making more money when they graduated. After my dad passed away, I officially realized I was completely on my own. I didn’t want to live paycheck to paycheck forever, so I worked towards graduating early so that I could eventually make more money.

 

Now, I know many of you will say “but college is meant to be enjoyed!”

Yes, that is one thing I definitely missed out on since I went through school so quickly. I worked full-time the entire time I was in college, and I missed out on a lot of “normal” college experiences. I was in one college club, and I joined it about a year before I graduated from college so that I could have something college related to put on my resume.

I didn’t make any lifelong friends in college either. Which probably sounds depressing but I promise it’s not. I still have the same friends I’ve had since high school and that is, of course, fine by me.

I also didn’t live in a dorm or college apartment, instead I rented a tiny home (less than 400 square feet and dingy) so I didn’t have the college party experience either.

But I don’t mind. I am who I am today because of my past, and I am happy with the life I have today.

Here are the actions I took to graduate from college in 2.5 years:

 

I took college classes in high school.

When I was in my senior year, almost all of my classes were classes where I was earning college credit. I took AP classes and classes that earned me college credit from nearby private universities (but I took them in the comfort of my high school). I believe I left high school with 14 credit hours (it might have been 18, I cannot remember). This way I knocked out a whole semester of college.

Also, these classes were cheap. I believe it was around $100 per credit hour instead of the normal cost which was anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per credit hour.

My senior year in high school was a breeze even though I was taking so many college classes. I could have taken even more but I had early release each day from school and got out 3 hours early so that I could go to work instead. So, I had plenty of time to work, go to school, and earn college credits.

 

I took a full course load.

When I was in college, I almost always took a full course load.  I took 15 credit hours one semester, but the other semesters I took 21 to 24 credit hours.

I was able to save money because I almost always took the maximum amount. There were also semesters where I paid an extra fee so that I could take 24 credit hours each semester. Anything over 18 credit hours meant I had to pay the extra fee, but it didn’t really bother me. I still saved money by paying less in fees because I wasn’t adding additional semesters to my course load.

 

I took classes one summer.

I regret not doing this more often. I did go to college in the summer time one semester though. I took 12 credit hours and even had to beg the Dean at the college for permission, but he still allowed it. The classes were easy and I had no problem doing this.

I also was able to save money because I took these summer college classes at a community college. I believe it was around $1,500 for all 12 credit hours, which is a steal!

 

I made sure all my classes transferred.

When I took classes for college credit in high school and at the community college, I made sure all of the classes transferred to the university in which I was getting my degree from.

I have heard too many stories about people not checking this ahead of time and wasting years by taking classes that didn’t transfer, and that is just not worthwhile to me.

I even have a friend who had 66 credit hours which didn’t transfer. That is just insane to me!

 

I took night classes.

For some reason, night classes have a bad reputation among certain people. I’m not sure why that is though.

Night classes are literally the exact same thing as day classes, except they are at night time. Yes, it’s really that simple.

Being able to take night classes helped me graduate sooner because I was able to work full-time during the day and attend my college classes at night time. If it weren’t for the night classes, I don’t think I would have been able to graduate as early as I did at all.

 

Are you trying to graduate from college quickly or are you taking your time?

Did you earn any college credits outside of where you earned your degree?

 

 

Attending College as a Non-Traditional Student

Femme Frugality writes about money as it pertains to young adults, brides, parents, Pittsburghers, and, of course, college students. You can read her blog here.

Recently Michelle shared that W was returning to school, and asked for some tips for non-traditional students. I recently graduated, and now my fiance is going to college for the first time.

We’re about as non-traditional as it gets, both being far beyond “traditional” college age, and having children. So I’ve got a plethora of tips that have been helping us get through this stage in our lives. And Michelle was kind enough to let me share them in a post.

 

Work as Little As Possible

I know that sounds crazy. As a non-traditional student, you’ve got very grown-up bills to pay. But trust me. If you’re serious about your degree, trimming down your work schedule will help not just your grades, but your overall mental health. I am not suggesting you go into debt in order to go back to school. (Both my fiance and I are doing this without any loans.)

What I am suggesting is that you sit down and look at your monthly budget. Look at your bills, how much you’ll need to be contributing to your emergency fund, how much you’ll need for other essentials such as gas and groceries, and a realistic entertainment category (though it might not be a bad idea to trim it down a little bit if you can).

Figure out the lowest number you’re willing to commit to (be realistic about this) for your overall monthly budget.

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How to Transition Back into the Workforce After a Long Period of Unemployment

Recently, a reader said that while my blog is helpful, that she would rather me have more tips and posts on those who have had a long period of unemployment. Then all of a sudden I received an e-mail from One Smart Dollar who said that they wanted to guest post and had some general ideas for a topic. What was one of those topics? It was THIS ONE! What great timing right?

This is a guest post from Scott Sery, a freelance writer, who writes for One Smart Dollar.  When not talking about money he enjoys passing on his knowledge of the back country in Montana and how to live sustainably.  Follow them on Twitter at @OneSmartDollar.

At least one time during most people’s working career they will find themselves unemployed. Whether it’s due to company cutbacks and workers layoffs, or due to the employee being fired, these normally hard working people find themselves forced into job hunting.

While there are plenty of jobs out there, not every job is suited to every person. So, rather than settle for something that is beneath their skill level, or a menial job that would do more damage to their self esteem than it is worth, they collect unemployment. They do this as they keep looking for the job for which they are trained. Many times that looking period is long; often lasting a year or more. When something finally does come along, they often find that the transition from unemployed to working is a lot harder than the transition from working to unemployed.

When a company first acknowledges your résumé and grants you an interview, you will be bombarded with emotions. First, overwhelming joy that you actually have a chance to re-enter the workforce will flood you. Then, that joy will be replaced with anxiety, fear, and doubt. The “what-ifs” creep in. You know those nagging questions: what if I don’t get the job, what if I get laid off again, what if I bomb the interview?  Take a deep breath, and take it one step at a time.

Prepare Your Image

Ideally, you would have already been getting up and starting each day as though you were getting ready for work. This means waking up early, showering and dressing as though you were going to head to the office, and then using at least a few hours per day researching jobs. If you have not been keeping up on your image, get yourself back there quickly.

Prepare Your Knowledge

You need to know the ins and outs of the company before your interview.  One of the top mistakes people make is walking into an interview without doing any research first.  You should know everything you possibly can about the company. And then take some time to learn about common interview questions.  The more you have studied, the more confidence you will exude during your interview. You’ll find the more confidence you exude, the more likely you are to land the job.

Prepare Your Network

This step comes after you nail the interview and land the job. In fact, the number one reason people do not get the job after an interview is because they don’t ask for it. If you feel you aced the interview, a simple question to ask is, “So when do I start?”  At that moment you can start building a relationship with your future co-workers. You will want to know who to turn to for inevitable questions that will arise.

Prepare Your Skills

Many times, there is still that lingering doubt that you won’t cut it at this job either. Get rid of all doubt by making yourself an invaluable asset to the company. Work hard to do more than what is required of you. Seek out new assignments and tasks. Take initiative without being asked. Show that you care, and that you want to do a good job, so if lay-offs come along again your name won’t even make that list.

Final Thoughts

Unemployment is tough. It wreaks havoc on our emotions and feelings of self worth. Those feelings do not disappear when transitioning back into the workforce. The key is to recognize them, and make sure they work for you and not against you. If you have found yourself out of a job for a while, now is the time to buckle down and become more competitive.

Have you ever had to deal with a long period of unemployment? What did or would you do?