Future me! But with burnt orange, of course.This May, I will be graduating. I will be twenty years old, and have completed my degree in just three years.

When people ask me about how I did this so quickly, I think that they often assume it’s because I’m somehow smarter than other people in my field. This is absolutely not true. I just mapped out my degree plan very effectively, and found alternative ways to earn some of my credits.

You can do the same thing, and I highly recommend it. Here are the resources I’ve used to speed up my graduation date, but there are a myriad of others as well:​​

-AP (or IB) Credits: FREE college classes? You don’t realize what a gift this is until you’re looking at your tuition bill (and weeping, and eating chocolate out of self-pity. Kidding, mostly.)

-Community college classes (in person): For the general education requirements, these are great. I took a few classes this way when I was still in high school and learned about some pretty interesting topics. I believe a class cost about the same amount as a Chipotle burrito, too.

-Community college classes (online): The summer before I started college, I knocked out my Texas government requirements. And I got to do this remotely, where my fellow Californians all thought I was crazy for taking a class about the most un-Californian state and government in the US.

-Placement tests: So technically I have a minor in Français from this… And all I had to do was take a short little test during orientation based on the French I’d already learned in high school. Très facile.

-CLEP Credits: These can save you from being stuck in a class where you already know most of the material. Just take a 100 question multiple-choice test and you’re good to go.

That being said, I would never recommend that a computer science student test out of any comp sci or math classes. The rest of your education will build on what you learn in these. Furthermore, learning from UT’s world-renowned faculty in your field of study is not something to throw away for a few hundred dollars saved on tuition.

Yet people are often concerned that I am not “enjoying” college to its fullest extent by shaving a year off. To this I respond that enjoying college isn’t my goal – enjoying life is. My path in college was supposed to set me up for a career that will encompass much more of my life than just four years. Furthermore, I’m not giving up on fun! I’m joining McCombs School of Business next year to get a master’s degree in business analytics. Nothing is more fun than big data (*insert joke about my dependence on buzzwords*).

Now pull out a spreadsheet, and map out the future classes you need. It really, really, pays off.

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of UT Computer Science, The University of Texas or any employee thereof.