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

One 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….

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 16, 2024

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How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees 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.

If you’re wondering the below, please continue reading!

  • How to graduate college in 3 years
  • How to finish college in 2 years
  • How to get a bachelor’s degree in 2 years
  • Can you finish college in 2 years
  • How to graduate college in 2 years

Related: 21 Ways You Can Learn How To Save Money In College

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.

Many people have asked me “Can you finish a degree in two years?

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? Are you interested in learning how to get a bachelor’s degree in 2 years?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Paul

    in another post you say that you graduated with “two undergraduate business degrees”. What does that mean? An associates and bachelors?

  2. PAUL

    In your “about” section you say that you graduated with “two undergraduate business degrees”. What does that mean? An associates and a bachelors?

    1. I have two bachelor degrees – Business Admin and Management.

  3. […] it is just to graduate in 4 years, with the proper planning, it can be done. Some people have even successfully graduated college in 2.5 years. But it is not for the faint of heart. Be ready for long nights, a tightly packed schedule, and […]

  4. Lori Thayer

    Great info on how you were able to complete your degree in 2.5 years. I did the same and just want to second for others this can be done. My classes were done in 2.5 years, I actually got the degree in 3 as I needed 1000 hours of work experience in my field and I did that after the classes were done.

    I didn’t have the opportunity to take AP classes in my High School. I think only one was even offered, this was small town America in the early 90s.

    I did test out of some college classes although I doubt it was more than 6 hours worth. I took 17, then 19 credits the first two semesters and then a full load during summer school. I highly recommend summer school as the classes are in a compressed time frame which means there isn’t time to slack on doing the work AND the tests are frequent which means it is more likely you will remember the material from when you learned it rather than having to study to recall. (at least this was my experience.

    I was a junior at the end of my first year of school (2 semesters and summer school). From then on I wasn’t able to take as heavy of loads as I was into classes for my major and the logistics didn’t make it possible. I also spent the second semester of my second year in Austria which was a great experience, although light on the credits. I did a couple more classes in the summer and then one more semester and then I was done.

    This does mean I wasn’t heavy into activities or social things which isn’t my way and also isn’t why I went to college. Others have a different goal or experience. e.g. if you have a scholarship for a sport or activity that other activity is likely taking up a great deal of your time.

    My original degree was in Hotel & Restaurant Administration. I went back and got a 2nd degree a few years later and I wasn’t able to configure my class load to do it in less than 2 years. (or I would have)

  5. Michaelle

    Usually people always tell me to take my time they don’t understand my goals and why I rush. As you said it so well in your blog I just want it to be over. True that I enjoy learning but there are so many other thing to do. I will be graduating in a year and half from now, a total of 2.5 years. I have always take 18 credits hours every semester and 9 credits hours for summer, I had 12 credits graduating from high school, and still hold my part time job. All of that while being a foreigner and living in the USA since only 2.5 years and barely speaking English (learning). I am glad to see that you have succeeded that shows me that I can too. By December 2020 I should have my degree in hand and a bright future ahead.

  6. Leah

    I’d kill for your energy and motivation. I never even finished technical college and I was o ly taking two classes and doing 20 hours of work study a week. I have really bad depression now and it takes away all my energy so I couldn’t even imagine doing that now. I hope to get better and finish one day.

    1. Leah (again)

      That and the fact that I never studied in middle/high school, I always got great grades but that wasn’t the case in college. Maybe because I went to a very poor school. I felt so stupid when I had to take chemistry because they started the lesson as if we already knew the basics and I never even taken chem before. I think that was my downfall. Once I get home I want to shut my brain off. And cramming worked but is just stressful and i want to kick myself for getting an 89 when if I had studied ahead I could’ve gotten an A. (I know passing is passing but I feel like at least having a nice gpa, maybe I’d feel a little less like a screw up)