The toxicity of graduating early: It’s not worth it

A slew of graduates. Photo courtesy of Joshua Hoehne via Unsplash.

Paola Manzano | Contributing Writer

While graduating in three years sounds impressive, it’s a deceitful lure that affects students’ mental health, GPA and overall academic opportunities. It can make one wonder what is actually derived from it.

A student’s overachieving nature may suggest doing a three-year Bachelor’s degree. However, upon talking to students who are graduating in their third year of college this year, I found out the disadvantages of graduating early surpass the advantages.

One way students can graduate early requires overflowed schedules with courses in which homework takes up most of their free time. Due to the packed class schedules, many of them cut out on extracurricular activities that stand out on their resumes —  they’re also the only break from school they get.

Overloading your courses either lowers your GPA, as there’s less time dedicated to each course, or trigger mental health issues, taking into account that an overwhelming workload in college can lead to a mental health crisis.

However, this is not the only way to carry out the inhumane three-year journey to graduation. Some students were lucky enough to have experienced this toxic ridden environment in high school.

“My high school was the type of high school where people not taking advanced placement credits were thought to be stupid,” said Reem Habbal, a marketing and international business major. 

Being influenced by this toxicity in high school, Habbal came into college with 40 credits already under her belt. Now she’s expected to graduate at just 20 years old.

She recalls this type of overachievement as “not encouraged, more like pressured.”

However, she acknowledges that, had she graduated in four years, she would’ve gotten the same opportunities — maybe even more. Habbal hasn’t been able to find internships due to the fact that time is not on her side, since the internships she’s looking into would rather hire people graduating next year.

Liza Rosado Pabon, a human resources director of Stryker, a multinational medical tech corporation, acknowledges that, even if recruitment strategies avoid biases during the hiring process, there are still chances that hiring young people for certain critical positions might be a risk that some employers do not want to take.

It’s a frustrating experience for a recent grad. The fact that after expediting their college journey in such a rush, some are having trouble putting it into practice.

This hurried version of your degree gives a student less time to build their resume, find internships or even come to terms with the adult world. 

“I’m graduating in 5 months, and I feel like I just got here,” said Habbal.

Graduating early would sometimes mean entering college as a sophomore, not a freshman. Which some people aren’t mentally prepared to do, since starting college as a sophomore instead of as a freshman puts you in more difficult classes.

Six months into college, Reem’s early graduation was approaching faster than she could keep up with, which led to her looking for jobs.

All of this because of the academic validation that high school had instilled in her.

These types of institutions subtly create an environment in which academic achievements are set to define who you are.

Seeing yourself as your academic achievements is seen more and more in the academic society as a way to succeed in the industry world, but often ignore the damages to one’s mental health. 

Something that also drives students into this world of overachievement over mental health is the high cost of university. 

While graduating in three years has many drawbacks, we cannot ignore the big gain of less money spent. Students on average save from $20,000 to $50,000 by graduating one year early.

However, when taking into account a graduate who has a scholarship dependent on GPA, this turns into a disadvantage. Since the stress and overload of courses may affect that GPA, the financial aid may go with it.

This leaves some three-year graduates with only the “three year” part as an accomplishment, with less experience under their belt and a declining mental health. Compared to four-year graduates with internships, extracurricular activities and a much better social life.

Academic validation seems to be the entirety of what’s gained from an early college graduation.

So let’s make it a habit to slow down enough to take in our surroundings and stop letting ourselves be swayed by the herd mentality of the academic community that believes faster is better. The deceiving nature of early graduation is affecting so many of our students’ mental health, but let’s remember that academic achievements are nothing without a healthy mentality to go with them.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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