Advantages and disadvantages of graduating early?

Suey

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NOTE: this is very long, but I REALLY, REALLY need help with advice, because I can't decide what is the best option for the life of me. So please help!

I definitely didn't intend to graduate early, I was taking classes to try to graduate within 4 years. As I was figuring what classes I needed to take left, I realized I only have 7 more major classes after this winter quarter that I'd need to take. Thus, I could potentially graduate after next fall quarter. But I don't know what is the BEST thing to do is...graduate early or the regular 4 years? People have suggested minoring or going abroad during my extra 2 quarters but I'm already minoring in something and I'd still be able to finish in Fall. And although it would be cool to go abroad, I'm planning to apply for med this summer, so I would need to stay here for interviews and what not. I don't feel like I'm rushing to graduate though b/c I didn't intend on it in the first place, but since this opportunity is available, I'm only debating it now. I don't know if I should act on it. Some say that you should enjoy your undergrad years and make the most of it. I felt like I already had a fulfilling college experience though in regards to being involved in my community and campus, and taking advantage of academic opportunities.

Here are my reasons of why I want/don't want to graduate early/later:

Graduate early:
UPs:
1. People always say it's good to take a year off after graduating before starting med school, so in a sense, my 2 free quarters would be like "time off". I would be able to spend time with my bf, family, and not having to stress about tests and such.
2. If I do interview in the middle of next school year, I won't have to worry about making up school work while I go on interviews, and perhaps I can actually stay longer and tour the places I fly to.
3. I would plan to find work as a post-grad researcher, so it would be fun focusing on researching for a time being.

DOWNs:
I'm not sure if med schools look down on this and if I'd be at a disadvantage?

Why I want to stay for my whole 4th year:
1. This is silly, but I REALLY want to learn how to speak spanish b/c I've gained an admiration for their culture and language, so I can take time and take some spanish classes...and perhaps a second language course since I'm interested in learning a little bit of chinese too.
2. I get a decent fin aid check. Although I can work as a post-grad researcher, I would get paid for just going to school, so maybe I should just cherish while I can do that.

I went to talk to my college counselor about this today, and he seemed to favor graduating early since researching will still probably be paid better than fin aid, and might look better as well. Also, I wouldn't need to take extra courses to raise my gpa so I wouldn't need to stay longer. And as with spanish, he said I can take crash-course spanish anytime.

Since I've never taken a college language class, do you really get to learn the language somewhat well by taking, say, 3 quarters worth of classes? Would I be somewhat fluent after 3 quarters or do you think crash-course would be better for conversational spanish? Also, since I have no idea about PGR salary, does anyone know the avg salary for PGR so I can make a good decision based off of finance?

Advice on ANYTHING is really appreciated...PGR, language classes, med schools' outlook on this, opinion on grad time. Thanks if you read through all this!!
 

redbeans

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Well, I don't know if it actually helped or hurt me, but I graduated in December and tried to use it to my advantage. The interviews/apps asked what I would be doing with my free time and I just reiterated that I would be continuing my job and my research (was for credit, now volunteer). I even told them my plans to travel to Europe.

I did it to save money. Period. And I enjoy having the half break without committing to a full year off where I would feel like I needed to be doing something important. It's not a complete vacation, but it's fun to come home from work and finally be the roomate who's not studying.

AND it was good to be able to schedule interviews in January without regards to tests or classes (though the ones in December screwed up my final finals/graduation party plans).

Really it's up to you - learning a language is a good skill, but why not go to South America and soak it up that way instead of trying to cram words. Everyone always says that's the only way to learn a new language - immersion.

Good luck!
 

crazyvladif

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Suey said:
DOWNs:
I'm not sure if med schools look down on this and if I'd be at a disadvantage?
Hey, just wanted to give my two cents on this one as another early grad. I'll be graduating this May after 3 years of undergrad, and applied to schools this year. Based on feedback during a few interviews, there were a few places that aren't too keen on the idea (check stats on individual schools before you apply -- red flags seem to be average age of the entering class/whether or not they take LOTS of non-traditional applicants that have taken time off).

Conversely, there were a few schools that loved it -- they commend efficiency. But be prepared to answer WHY you graduated early, as that question seemed to come up in almost every interview.
 

dbutz02

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I would recommend just finishing it if you're not going to stress yourself too badly next fall. I mean why not. You could take january through march to focus on interviews and research and of course some relaxation and then go to spain for a few months and learn spanish. I'm sort of in your same boat and I'm jealous. I'm going to be 12 credits short of gradutating this spring and I have all my med schools requirments done so I thought I'd be ambitious and apply...I planned it all out early my sophomore year so I took my mcats early etc. I shouldn't be complaining though I got accepted to one of my top choices and I'm really excited but it would be nice to take a semester off...Not that I haven't caught a small case of senioritis.
I've had a great college experience and I'm ready to move on and get on with the rest of my life. But take the time off and enjoy yourself.
Best of Luck
 
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Suey

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thanks for the responses guys! I'm glad to know there's other people who's already been through this process! Any more insights?