Broker Check

Why 4 or More Years For College? What About Three?

July 20, 2020

Though there are some programs that require more, most four year colleges have approximately 120 credits that you must earn before you graduate with your bachelor’s degree in your major. 

Most of us enter into college with the expectation that we are going to complete that in four years. That means 15 credits a semester. In reality less than have students finish in four.   

But imagine how much you could save if you finished in three?   Here are some ideas that can help. 


It’s always surprising to me how few parents have actually heard about these tests where you can earn college credits before even starting college. They can save you thousands of dollars in a whole lot of hours. 

The college level examination program offered through the College Board allows students to take tests to receive college credits. These are different than the AP exams because they are offered year-round and they ask about material that you may have already studied. 

It’s important to do your homework though. Not all colleges except all types of CLEP exams. Here is a website where you can check to see which colleges accept which exams. 

Dual Enrollment 

Many high schools now offer something called dual enrollment courses. These are college level courses a student can take in high school and get college credit. Usually the high school has partnered with a local community college or university that blesses the classes. 

They should definitely be considered, because they are usually a fraction of the cost of a college credit at your child’s chosen college year later.  It’s important that you do your homework in advance to see how transferable these credits are.  Here is a great article that describes the pluses and minuses. 


This one I have personal experience with.  Why not spend summer mornings at the local community college or other local college gaining credits at less cost than your typical college or university.  Or, why not explore seeking out professional licenses, such as insurance or Real Estate during your summer time? 

These are all great paths to save potentially tens of thousands of dollars towards the total cost of a college education.