How to Graduate from College on Time

Graduate on TIme

It seems like as my friends and I creep closer to graduation, I hear more and more horror stories about not being able to graduate on time. Mostly, those students blame their advisors for the problem and, while sometimes that might be the case, it’s always important to make sure you’re doing your job to ensure you graduate on time. Here are my best tips for staying on top of your requirements and making sure you graduate on time and without any problems!

Hold yourself accountable.

From my fist semester freshman year I have been constantly on top of my credits. So much that I created my own Excel spreadsheet to keep track of those classes, credits, and other graduation requirements (more on that later)! Advisors can only do so much for you. They have so many other students to keep track of, they can’t possibly know every little thing that’s happening with your schedule unless you meet with them. Advisors get busy in the weeks leading up to registration, so set an appointment to meet with them BEFORE that crazy time. I will usually meet with my advisor 2-3 weeks out from registration (or as soon as the courses are available to look at online).

Stay organized.

The Excel spreadsheet I created helped me tremendously with planning out my schedule every semester and keeping everything in one simple place. I also have a designated folder that I keep all my course scheduling documents in and a notebook that I use to do rough planning of my schedule every semester. It really, really helps to have one single notebook for that. I’ve been using the same one since freshman year and it’s so helpful and cool to be able to look back and see what courses I ended up taking and what courses I didn’t end up registering for.

Ask questions.

Like I mentioned above, your advisor is there to help you but he/she can’t do all the work alone! If you are scheduling a meeting with an advisor, make sure you come prepared with any and all questions you might have. Sure you could email your advisor all semester long but, really, you get the best help face-to-face. Pile up all those questions you’ve been saving all semester and bring them with you to your advising session! I personally will write any questions I have and stick them inside my designated folder (the same one I mentioned above).

Get creative!

I’m a crazy person so I love making Excel spreadsheets for anything and everything. I made this spreadsheet based off of a printed piece of paper my boyfriend got from his advisor when he was in college.

I color coded based on type of class. Classes for my major are highlighted yellow, classes for my minor are blue, GenEd classes are green, and any other classed I needed to take to graduate were highlighted purple. I didn’t highlight the classes I chose to take as an elective but I’m sure you could do that if you wanted as well! Below is an example of what my spreadsheet looks like.

Semester Class Breakdown Excel Spreadsheet

Because this blog is all about helping other college students succeed, I wanted to share my spreadsheet with you! I’ve created a blank one (with my actual spreadsheet on a separate page for reference) for anyone to use to help keep track of classes and credits. You can get the spreadsheet by leaving your email below! Once you confirm your subscription it’ll be sent to your inbox. Look out for it! The spreadsheet is located on Google drive, to edit you can download it to your own drive or to your computer. Happy tracking!

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  • Holding yourself accountable can be difficult as graduation draws near and you don’t care as much about grades. Good for you realizing this!

  • Wow look at you go girl! That is so cool of you that you made a freebie spreadsheet! I find it so confusing sometimes to figure out all what I need to take and when. Your technique is great for keeping it all organized and easy to see. Thanks!


  • As a student who spent two years undeclared, not graduating on time started to look like a real possibility. As a matter of fact,t he first time I met with my advisor after declaring, I was so nervous I was almost sick! Luckily, I was on track and everything works out, but that moment of panic was bad enough, I can’t imagine not graduating on time! Your spreadsheet looks like an amazing resource – what a great idea!

  • Kelsey Sleek

    This post was super helpful!! I need to get on your level with all of those Excel worksheets #goals.

    My major at my CSU is super impacted, so the hardest part for me is actually getting into the classes I need so I’m able to graduate on time. IT’S SO STRESSFUL!!

    I love the part about asking questions, and being accountable. So, so true my friend.

    Thanks again for the amazing tips <3

    XOXO, Kelsey

  • Getting organized and research are big ones. I was always more than prepared for my meetings before registering each semester. They only reason I went was because it was required and we had to get a paper signed off. But my adviser never had any changes and always said how prepared I was!

  • Kayleigh

    I still am in shock that I’m graduating! Time flies!

  • Ashley

    A helpful post to any college student! I transferred schools and spent a year of catchup. Wish I would have paid more attention!

    xo Ashley

  • Good reminders!

  • Holding one’s self accountable is so important to finishing anything. Love this!

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

  • Such great advice! Using your advisor to your advantage and asking a ton of questions is really important. I had a lot of friends who made assumptions without consulting theirs and ended up having to stay for an extra semester!

  • I graduated on time by keeping myself in line and always taking at least 15 hours!

    Nicole // Chronicling Home

  • You provided some great advise. I know college can be so fun and becoming a 5th year senior sound more enticing than being a real adult with a 9-5 job. I did all the things you stated and reached my goal of graduating on time and with honors.

  • Adriana

    Love this! I’m graduating next month thank god haha – my advisor sadly wasn’t much help throughout the past two years though, so getting everything in place was not easy. Glad it’s coming to an end!

  • Serena

    I love the idea of making a spread sheet! I never thought of it, but I’ll definitely be using it to stay organized this semester.

  • Cj Wynn

    can’t find the spreadsheet? can anybody Help? e-mail it to or send me the link.

  • Lexi

    Oh my gosh, I am absolutely speechless about the Excel sheet! I would have never thought of it. It is such a smart idea! I am currently a senior in high school and have college credits already, so it is great for keeping track of all those as well. I am on my way to Excel to create my own right now! Great post – It held a lot of useful information!