Author Topic: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!  (Read 19309 times)

GizmoTX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1414

odput

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 414
  • Age: 34
  • "I reject your reality and substitute my own"
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2014, 10:08:02 AM »
It took me four and a half years, by that's because my program had 3 semesters of internships built into it, so 4.5 years is technically on time, although it would miss the criteria of this article.

Now, that's not to say that 81% of college attendees have this same scenario, but I'd guess that maybe 10% of students (note this is a guess) fall into a similar category

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2008
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2014, 10:10:19 AM »
I took 5 years, my wife took 6.  Honestly, most of the people that I can think of off hand took over 4.  It's pretty typical to work while going to school, and it's really hard to schedule a full load with a typical employer...  Some people get lucky and can make it work, but most can't make the hours fit together.

Posthumane

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 306
  • Location: Alberta
    • Getting Around Canada
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2014, 10:14:40 AM »
I also took significantly longer than 4 years, but I don't see that as a massive problem. My four year degree was spread over 5 years due to a slightly lower course load which actually reduced the annual tuition (since you pay by course) and allowed me more time to hold a part time job. Add to that a year and a half of paid internship, and the result was 6.5 years total but no student debt. This would have been a lot more costly had I not be living with parents while going to school.

netskyblue

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 630
  • Location: Midwest USA
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2014, 10:17:00 AM »
I (2002-2004) did it in 2 years at a state university, plus the summer in between high school/college.  I'd taken college classes in high school, took one more gen ed during that interim, and took full course loads, plus winter/summer classes.  I didn't work full time though, only 20 hours a week on campus.

My younger sister (2006-2008) did it in 3 years, one year at a community college which she got for free as valedictorian (I could have done, also, but opted not to), then finished in 2 years at a state university.

My youngest sister (2007-2010) took the full 4 years at a state university.  She double majored.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 10:19:28 AM by netskyblue »

RWD

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3691
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2014, 10:20:39 AM »
I took 4.25 years because I did a couple internships in between.

Gin1984

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4788
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2014, 10:28:05 AM »
I went to community college then a state school.  To finish the upper requirements took 2.5 years and to be eligible for transfer as a junior took 3 years just by the number of units.  I did take a semester off to work and went part time, both during community college because without any aid I needed to work.

GizmoTX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1414
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2014, 12:23:49 PM »
I believe the article (citing the study) refers to students who are enrolled in college for more than 4 years, due to light loads, retaking failed courses, transfer from another school, changing majors, required courses not being offered during the final year, and/or not wanting to leave.

To me, taking a break to do co-op semesters, an internship, or to earn more money is not the same thing at all. While there is an opportunity cost to delaying a degree, it can be the difference that allows the degree to happen.

Forcus

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 714
  • Location: Central Illinois
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2014, 12:33:42 PM »
My experience is not the normal (if normal is 4 years of school in a dorm at college) but what happened to me was the program requirements were changed halfway through my program. I was lucky to get grandfathered in, otherwise it would have been 4.5 or 5 years. Also the program I was in started cost cutting, offering classes at certain times, and it conflicted with other required classes. I almost had to commute 1.5 hours each way just to get to a 3 hour class but luckily online alternatives were offered. Anyway that was my experience though I bet based on GizmoTX's post it's mostly students' failures that are driving it out.

Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1156
  • Age: 29
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2014, 12:33:52 PM »
The only reason I graduated in 4 years was because I started college classes at my community college while still in high school. My two brothers simply graduated from high school a year early, but took 3 years at the community college. It's nearly impossible to get admitted to all your classes in a state school these days.

I also did two internships and was an officer in my academic club, but no summer classes.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2014, 12:45:35 PM »
i took 5 years. i took a semester off to go work in my field of study invaluable experience. and i got a minor in business( this was really just a stay in college and have fun semester but hey the state was still paying for it so why not)

myteafix

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 38
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2014, 12:51:36 PM »
I took four & a half years, but that's because I triple-majored. Thankfully, I had pretty good scholarships, and they even covered that extra semester at the end.

GizmoTX

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1414
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2014, 12:53:11 PM »
It's nearly impossible to get admitted to all your classes in a state school these days.

So if the schools are not providing enough sections or seats, then the resulting extra semester(s) is actually a source of funding for them. That's terrible.

Any university that changes a program should be providing a transition path or grandfather period for those affected.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2014, 01:12:09 PM by GizmoTX »

austin

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 147
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2014, 12:56:04 PM »
I completed my academic requirements in 3 years but had to stay on through a 4th because I was on an ROTC scholarship. My buddy completed his degree in three years and had alreay through-hiked the AT and landed a good job by the time I graduated. My sister changed schools and majors, took a semester off to through-hike the AT, and still graduated in four years.

zoltani

  • Guest
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2014, 01:09:01 PM »
6.5 years for me. Started at community college while working full time, taking only a couple night classes. Worked at least part time all the way through. Also studied abroad for a year. I do not regret taking so long, and I still think every student should spend a year abroad.

Beric01

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1156
  • Age: 29
  • Location: SF Bay Area
  • Law-abiding cyclist
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2014, 01:22:18 PM »
It's nearly impossible to get admitted to all your classes in a state school these days.

So if the schools are not providing enough sections or seats, then the resulting extra semester(s) is actually a source of funding for them. That's terrible.

Any university that changes a program should be providing a transition path or grandfather period for those affected.

Yeah, California state schools are extremely short in funding due to our fiscal incompetence. My brother waited 4 quarters to be admitted into his physics class due to not enough seats.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7031
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2014, 01:38:23 PM »
I finished in 4. It was a smallish engineering school, and each class after soph year was only offered once.  So - you had no choice of when to take the classes.

One of my roommates took 5 because she got D's in a couple of classes junior year, and basically repeated most of junior year.

I can imagine that larger state schools (think of CA now, specifically) may be harder if you cannot get your classes.

But I'd be ticked off if that meant paying a full tuition.

I also think it's different if you are working and taking fewer classes.  No shame in that.

Albert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1254
  • Location: Switzerland
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2014, 01:40:56 PM »
I finished my Bs on time (4 years), but proceeded to spend another 9 years in academia before landing my first permanent job. In hindsight I might have done things a bit differently, but I don't regret the journey at all.

pzxc

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 196
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2014, 02:10:50 PM »
I went to college for 3.5 years, and wasn't going to have enough credits to finish on time, and my parents said "well we can pay for the next semester but that's it", so I had a choice of either finishing and using student loans to cover the gap, or just dropping out.

I dropped out.  I don't regret it, but I'm a programmer so it's perhaps the easiest field to be in as far as proving your worth based on your skills and not your education. So I never felt it held me back not finishing that degree.  But many other fields it's not as easy to prove your own self-worth without the pedigree.

mrbrightside695

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2014, 02:24:45 PM »
Most of the people I knew that took >4 years did so because they either failed classes and had to retake them, or switched majors and had to make up extra classes (and left some credits unused). I don't think anyone intentionally stayed longer than 4 years because of the extra tuition it would cost - those that wanted to stay on campus just graduated and either started grad school or found a job to pay for living expenses while spending another year on campus.

Personally, I finished in 3.5 years (4, but with 1 semester off for a co-op) with a BS and MS - but I was definitely an outlier amongst my friends.

Lia-Aimee

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 117
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2014, 03:05:52 PM »
I took six years but was working full-time at a job in my career of choice at the same time.

That said, I have friends in the 25-27 age range who are still doing their bachelors degree after having reduced classes/stopped/started/changed it a number of times. Some of these were due to extreme financial necessity. Some of these were due to wanting a reduced course load to maintain a social life or the desire to extensively travel; the "extended adolescence" trend hard at work.

Setruss

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 14
  • Age: 26
  • Location: USA
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2014, 03:09:50 PM »
http://www.purdue.edu/enrollmentmanagement/researchanddata/gradretentionrates.html

I could have graduated in 3.5-4 years. I instead joined a 5-year co-op program with 5 work terms (2 during summers, 3 during normal semesters), took 3 classes over one summer semester, and took a summer off for vacation/ mental health. I'll be graduating in 2016 if I don't fail any classes and can get into all of my required classes. I am taking ~ 17 credit hours every semester and I'll be getting a part time job next semester (10-20 hours), so I'm not taking it easy in college... I also have a 3.92 / 4.0 GPA so far.

Most of my classmates that will not be graduating in 4 years had to retake classes and switched majors. In our major, failing a class can set you a semester behind because of pre-reqs (statics could be the pre-req to 3 classes, so if you fail statics your plans are screwed).

Pooperman

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2973
  • Age: 29
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2014, 03:57:11 PM »
3.5 years for me. Could have done it in 3 with a bit of luck and if I'd brought my A game. 2.85 GPA partially the result of mono my first semester (C+ on most classes due to missing 6 weeks), partially me not bringing my A game. Got a BS and a minor (135 credits I believe). Came in with something like 16 credits from community college in high school and AP classes (no freshman English wuhoo!).

BS Engineering Physics with minor in History.

gimp

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2348
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2014, 04:18:11 PM »
5 years, including almost two years of co-op. Worth it.

johnintaiwan

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 360
  • Location: Tainan, Taiwan
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2014, 07:58:14 PM »
only took me 3 years at OSU (Go Beavs). I took AP classes in high school, did an internship one summer and took a few classes the last summer to finish up. But I was also in a fraternity, did a study abroad for a term, was involved in sports teams and clubs and changed majors twice. I think it is doable in 4 years, but you have to understand how classes are scheduled and what the requirements are for your degree and gen ed classes.

I knew a lot of people who messed up because they didnt pay attention to those details. They only needed a few classes but they were not offered until the next fall. Or maybe they need to take class B but class A is a pre rec so they have to wait another term. Changing majors also seemed to be a problem. I made sure that my first years classes would transfer into any program since I figured I would change my mind on majors (which I did).

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2014, 08:00:36 PM »
I was in college for seven years total, but I finished with two degrees and a teaching certificate.  I was also involved in two co-ops and student teaching; the biggest reason, though, was that I was working during the entire experience, and I wasn't able to take as many classes as I could've if I'd not been paying my own way through.  I don't regret it because I graduated without debt, but I wanted something better for my own children.


My daughter, who is currently a college student is on track to graduate in four years, and we've talked about this.  Of her six good girlfriends who headed out to college together, three of them are on track to graduate on time (and two of them are doing a semester abroad).  Here's what she says on the subject: 

- Yes, lots of students don't take enough classes to get them through school in four years.  Some of this may be due to working or family responsibilities, but my daughter tells me that the vast majority of her college friends don't work.  This seems odd to me since when I was in school pretty much everyone worked.  She and I think the vast majority just don't plan well; they've been taking four classes in high school, so they figure that's good for college too -- but, in reality, if you're going to graduate in four years, you need to take 5 classes most semesters. 

- In their first year or two, MANY of her classmates simply didn't grasp the idea that they need to take specific classes to graduate and if they register for the wrong stuff, no one's going to stop them.  After all, in high school, your counselors prevent this from happening.  She's very on top of this kind of thing, and her roommate asked her to help her figure out which science she should take -- my girl said, "Take Class A.  It will work for your major AND it will fulfill a general degree requirement, leaving you more options in future semesters."  The roommate said, "Nah, I really don't want to take either one, but I think Class B will be more interesting." Her faculty advisor signed off on it without question, but then the very next semester she realized that she needed to take Class A anyway!  Wasted classes like that end up costing time.

- In their first year or two, MANY of her classmates simply didn't hurry to register as soon as their classes "opened up".  Rather, they just figured it'd all work out.  My niece did this, and she wasn't able to get into a single one of her major classes in her first semester -- so she registered for a bunch of electives.  Great fun, but not so profitable in terms of progressing towards graduation.  In contrast, a couple times, my daughter has been unable to get into a class . . . but she checks the online schedule like a hawk, and she has ALWAYS been able to make changes.  The best day to look for classes opening up, she says, is the day after tuition is due.  It's very sad that someone didn't pay on time and was dropped from Chem 201 . . . but that now-empty spot is going to go to the person who bothered to check.

- Many of her classmates don't look for ways to optimize their classes; for example, my daughter has taken advantage of the option to take one elective a year pass/fail.  It removes some pressure to do well in one class.  However, she says that some of her friends have been surprised to realize that this is an option.  It makes me want to ask, Why didn't they read all the details provided by their college?   

- Many, if not most, of her friends have changed majors or schools at least once.  Even though it's probably the right choice, this typically costs in terms of time.  Choosing well in the first place could elminate this issue. 

- Many departments have their classes set up in such a way that if you fail a class in the fall, you're not able to pick it up again in spring . . . you have to wait 'til fall again.  This isn't particularly new -- it happened to my husband in his engineering classes back in the 80s, but it's more prevelent now. 


Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2014, 08:12:02 PM »
Disgraceful, but not surprising.

Aspiring students and parents:  look carefully and seriously at published graduation rates for your options.  Some schools are really 90+% graduated in 4 years while other are under 20%.  It is quite annoying now that 6 year graduation rates are the reported norm, but if even that is low, just go somewhere else. 

Ynari

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 547
  • Age: 27
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2014, 09:39:13 PM »
Because of my 6 courses worth of AP elective credits, hyper-planning, and choosing a less demanding major I am graduating in 3.3 years. (We're on a trimester system.)  Also my motivation to get-outta-that-place and omg-it's-so-expensive helped trim it down from 4 years.

My school designed their system to be a rigorous 4 year program. Only people who 'game' the system with AP credits or constantly taking the maximum load of courses can graduate early. Anyone who makes a single mistake - like not being able to place into a required class early on because EVERYONE ELSE is competing for them too, or not getting into a class that's only offered once a year - might be pushed into an extra trimester or three.

I am graduating before my brother, who started college 3 years before me. His delay is due to transfers and apparent confusion about the requirements. (I'm not sure if it's his fault, or his advisor's, but there always seems to be one more class he wasn't aware he had to take, or that he didn't do well enough in when he originally took it to count for his major.) 

MayDay

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4034
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2014, 10:02:57 AM »
For state schools, in the Midwest land grant category anyway, some schools have chosen to limit enrollment to allow everyone to take the classes they need. Others are allowing unlimited enrollment because they need the money.

Some are starting to offer a 4 year guarantee that you can get into all the classes you need. This is a major selling point for some parents, but as noted above there are still lots of ways for a kid to screw it up.

I have a relative in charge of course scheduling at a university, and according to him it's a nightmare. They need more sections of classes than they can fit, especially for labs, so stuff has to get scheduled earlier in the morning and later at night. They lack enough of certain classrooms but the remodeling process takes several years. This relative currently has an office in a hotel room while the on-campus building is being renovated to hold more classrooms and then all the offices will get jammed on the top floor.

But since state funding keeps spiraling downwards, they keep excepting (edit: I can't believe I used the wrong word, I am mortified, it should say accepting!) more kids.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 06:55:36 AM by MayDay »

thepokercab

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 486
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2014, 10:15:56 AM »
I finished mine in 4 years, but It could have easily gone longer.  I went into college with 6 hours of AP credit from high school, and then took at least 1 summer course after each spring semester, and sometimes up to two courses. If I hadn't done that, it would have been at least 4.5 years, and maybe 5.   

Heywood57

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 94
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #30 on: December 03, 2014, 10:33:18 AM »
It took me over 5 years because I was working nights, 40+ hours a week,
which allowed me to pay for nearly all the cost.

skunkfunk

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1057
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Oklahoma City
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #31 on: December 03, 2014, 11:36:14 AM »
Took me 6 years, full ride no job. Even then I had to complete 37 hours my last 7 months (January - July.)

Mesmoiselle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 334
  • Location: Kentucky
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #32 on: December 04, 2014, 07:08:48 AM »
Let's see. I did a two year trade school that got me zero degree. Was hired 9months later for the trade. But in the waiting interim thought "why not get an associate's?" But then , half a year into working, realized there was no point and just stopped. The degree would gain me nothing. Then I took a physics class to help me pass a licence exam. Nothing again for another 3 years. Then started back again this fall be cause I finally decided I disliked my line of work and an alternative I actually wanted. Will take me three more semesters at half time to finish the associate but can't afford time off from my ALREADY limited work schedule.

So to get my associates will have taken me 12 semesters of time. which equates to what, 4 years? Just for my associates, spread out over 5 colleges in three different states. I plan to do the bachelor's in just two, however. Master program/trade school lasts two. Ends up being 8 years total.

I'm cool with it, except I wish I'd just persevered and gotten the Associate's at the time rather than play catch up now. But my past self wasn't convinced it'd get me anything. If I wasn't changing careers,my initial thinking would still be true.

Neustache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1192
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #33 on: December 04, 2014, 07:24:06 AM »
I was on track to be done in 4.5 years, but I worked a bunch during school.  Then I got married, moved out, and had to work full time and go to school part time.  7 years total for me, and I've never gotten a job due to having a bachelor's degree. 

midweststache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 471
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #34 on: December 04, 2014, 11:13:46 AM »
3.5 years with a double major. I also worked an average of 10-30 hours (whether or not I was working retail or just tutoring) while in college. I took nine hours of summer classes all three summers while working (unfortunately summer classes were not covered by scholarships). One summer these courses were part of a study abroad trip. I also came in with 12 hours of university credit from taking courses at the local college my senior year of high school, but it was all counted as only "elective" credit at my university (*sigh*).

My university had a flat tuition fee for any amount of hours between 12-17 during the regular semesters. I missed summer registration, so my first semester I was only enrolled for 12 hours (I fought to switch a class to get it up to 13). I felt like I was getting screwed financially, so I enrolled in at least 17/hrs a semester after that, and took 21 hours one semester to make sure I could graduate a semester early (still including student teaching). I could've double-majored/triple-minored if I stayed for the extra semester, but I didn't feel like a couple extra minors was worth it.

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3519
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #35 on: December 04, 2014, 07:33:07 PM »
Disgraceful, but not surprising.

Aspiring students and parents:  look carefully and seriously at published graduation rates for your options.  Some schools are really 90+% graduated in 4 years while other are under 20%.  It is quite annoying now that 6 year graduation rates are the reported norm, but if even that is low, just go somewhere else.
Be sure to look at the overall picture.  Here's an example:

At our state flagship university, something like 94% of the students graduate in four years.  Sounds great!  Yet consider the whole picture:  Pretty much every student was in the top 10 at his high school.  They expect every student to come in with at least a semester of AP credits under his belt; thus, these students are really spending more than four years on their degree -- they just did some of it before they were officially college students.  Every student at this unversity is highly academic; that is, they're capable of taking on a heavy class load.  Finally, the majority of the students at this school come from middle class or upper class families who are able to support them financially (or at least who have good credit).  These kids are set up for success!  No wonder such a high percentage finishes on time! 

Keep in mind, too, that LOADS of students begin college . . . but stay only a semester or two.  These students tend to attend the mid-tier or lackluster schools, and they make the didn't-graduate-in-four-years numbers skyrocket. 


MrsSmitty

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #36 on: December 05, 2014, 02:51:52 PM »
It took me 5 years. I spent 2 summers and 1 fall semester in internships. And at my school you paid a flat rate for full time and then could take as many credits as you wanted. I took my sweet time getting my engineering degree but threw in enough extra classes to get a business minor and a math minor as well. Sure I had more student loans than I might have had otherwise, but they're paid off now. No regrets.

soontoberichteacher

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 15
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #37 on: December 05, 2014, 04:40:07 PM »

At our state flagship university, something like 94% of the students graduate in four years.  Sounds great!  Yet consider the whole picture:  Pretty much every student was in the top 10 at his high school.  They expect every student to come in with at least a semester of AP credits under his belt; thus, these students are really spending more than four years on their degree -- they just did some of it before they were officially college students.  Every student at this unversity is highly academic; that is, they're capable of taking on a heavy class load.  Finally, the majority of the students at this school come from middle class or upper class families who are able to support them financially (or at least who have good credit).  These kids are set up for success!  No wonder such a high percentage finishes on time! 


This sounds like UNC Chapel Hill, where I went. I remember very clearly at orientation when they stressed "We cannot wait to see you at graduation in four years. Not five years, not six. Four." And from what I have heard, you have to basically appeal to stay longer. You can't pick up minors late in your career, etc. But I agree with it to some extent. With budget cuts, classes are super competitive to get into. With a push for kids to graduate in four years, it prevents tons of super seniors from getting early registration and hogging classes that other students need for their majors.

pagoconcheques

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 190
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2014, 12:56:32 PM »
I graduated in 3 1/2 years simply to save money.  I paid my tuition and over a certain number of units the price for a semester no longer increased.  About the time I got my bill for the second semester of my freshman year I did a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation and realized I could save 12.5% of my college costs by taking an additional "free" course every semester just by passing that magic cutoff. 

This approach still works at most colleges.  An added bonus is that you are a semester ahead of your class in the job market. 

Albert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1254
  • Location: Switzerland
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #39 on: December 08, 2014, 06:07:22 AM »
At our state flagship university, something like 94% of the students graduate in four years.  Sounds great!  Yet consider the whole picture:  Pretty much every student was in the top 10 at his high school.  They expect every student to come in with at least a semester of AP credits under his belt; thus, these students are really spending more than four years on their degree -- they just did some of it before they were officially college students.  Every student at this unversity is highly academic; that is, they're capable of taking on a heavy class load.  Finally, the majority of the students at this school come from middle class or upper class families who are able to support them financially (or at least who have good credit).  These kids are set up for success!  No wonder such a high percentage finishes on time! 

Keep in mind, too, that LOADS of students begin college . . . but stay only a semester or two.  These students tend to attend the mid-tier or lackluster schools, and they make the didn't-graduate-in-four-years numbers skyrocket.

This ilustrates differences in approaches to higher education around the world. For example ETH Zurich (most prestigious institution here) by law has to admit every Swiss applicant who has taken his/her Matura (20% of all teenagers) plus they admit a lot of foreigners too. The solution to this overpopulation is that the graduation rate is purposely made low (as little as 1/3 in some majors). At the end of the first year everyone has to pass the basic test of knowledge with 50% failure rate. Those who don't pass have to drop out or repeat the entire first year.

JustTrying

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 219
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #40 on: December 08, 2014, 10:02:35 PM »
I took 3.5 years for a double major. I went to a private college in which all full-time students paid the same amount in tuition if they took anywhere between 12 and 18 credits. We all also had an option to take a January-term class, which was a 2-or-3 week class (I can't remember which) in between Fall and Spring semester. The January class was "free" if you were enrolled as a full-time student for the rest of the academic year. I saved quite a bit of money by taking 18-or-more credits each semester and by always taking a class in January!


Left

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #41 on: December 09, 2014, 04:11:36 AM »
i took 6 years, between scholarships and grants, i left school with a net of 20k and a job in the field that i studied. just found out this week that the research paper i started got accepted so i'll be 'published' by end of the month.

JoanOfSnark

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 68
  • Location: Berlin, Germany
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #42 on: December 09, 2014, 06:40:10 AM »
I took 5 years, but the 5th was paid for by the honors college of the school I attended, and I used it to get the honors certification for my field. Also 3 unrelated minors, 2 study-abroads, and a semester-long internship. I did burn myself out by the end though (I just started showing up to classes by the end that I hadn't even registered for... it's how I got a year's worth of Irish Gaelic lessons for free, with the professor's permission, because I didn't want to pay for the classes to show up on my transcript when my GPA was good and I was just taking the class for fun). I love learning, so I ended up taking more classes than I was credited with by the end because the hobby wasn't worth the several extra grand to get it added on officially.

frugalnacho

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3532
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Madison Heights, Michigan
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #43 on: December 09, 2014, 08:58:28 AM »
It took me 5 years because my university is stupid about scheduling.  They had a list of all required classes and recommended that it be done in 4 years, but it was impossible to actually schedule it in anything less than 5 years because of the way they structured the prerequisites.  For example you had to complete 5 prerequisite classes, but they don't offer them over the summer, so you have to take 2 year 1, then 2 year 2, and the final one year 3.  Then you have to take an engineering course (in your 3rd year because you have to take 2 more classes after this one) after meeting those prerequisites, but they only offer it the first semester of the year (when you are taking your final prerequisite for the class).  So you had to wait until your 4th year to take that course, and then you had 2 additional classes (again not offered in the summer) so you had to complete them your 5th year.

It was real stupid and I ended up not even being a full time student my last year because of it.  I think it was intentional to force students to hang around on campus longer than necessary.  We all (the engineering students) brought it up to the administration, but were ignored (like I said, i'm pretty sure they do it intentionally). 

Zamboni

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2513
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #44 on: December 09, 2014, 10:46:20 PM »
I agree that differences in the background of the "typical" student who goes to a school does have a huge impact on the graduate rates.  But the institutional attitude and culture about expecting on time graduation and helping students graduate on time also plays a big role. 

For example, I work somewhere now where students are allowed to count very few AP classes towards their degree.  So, they don't make it in "4" because of that.  Most make it in four because they are bright, have good resources, and very importantly graduation in 4 years is the very clearly stated expectation for all students up front. Association with the graduating class year is stressed frequently to students in all communications to them before they even set food on campus, and it remains a source of identity.  Many students even have something like "class of 2017" right under their name in their email autosignature.) Institutional tolerance for falling behind and multiple "do-overs" is very low, and that is coupled with a very strong academic advising focus for students who are struggling to make academic progress.  For example, one single F interim report at mid-term triggers a mandatory advising visit that results in the generation of an action plan for the student, who participates in the generation of the plan. For many gateway classes there are free peer tutors paid for by the University, there are help rooms, there are people on staff to help with setting up time management plans, etc.  Faculty who fail to meet with every single one of their advisees every term and enter appropriate comments in the system do NOT get their supplemental advising funds (yes, there is a lady in a central University office who checks this every term, and she sends out a reminder to faculty that she WILL be checking it every term during the advising period.  She also controls the accounting of the funds.)  A student who tries to pull a no-show in a class or classes will be nagged fairly incessantly by administrators with impressive sounding titles, and if there is evidence of mental health issues or substance abuse, then almost invariably the parents end up in the loop (I'm sure privacy laws are followed, but students often consent to notification of their parents.)  These safety nets help most struggling students turn it around, but students who aren't making sufficient academic progress despite all of these resources are dismissed at the end of their first year (most can and do apply for re-admission after taking a leave of absence.) 

Contrast the above with another place where I have worked.  It is also a fairly highly selective place where all admitted students should have the goods to do well, and AP classes count, so many students come in with a semester or two under their belt.  Technically most students are closer to their 4 year degree when they matriculate than they would be at the aforementioned institution.  It is a very strong school with very highly respected graduates and a strong alumni network.  But, institutional culture and expectations of graduating on time are much weaker.  Students are not encouraged to strongly associate an identity with a certain year of graduation.  Advising is much weaker for most students (no one ever even checked to see if I met with any of the advisees on my list), and if students are failing at mid term, then it is likely they won't have to meet with anyone to discuss it.  Certainly there is no mandatory meeting that is tracked by a central office; the only exception to this is misconduct cases, which do trigger mandatory meetings.  And, the worst part in my opinion, it takes two full years of making essentially zero academic progress for a student to be formally dismissed (there are all kinds of loopholes that students can use to stay "in school" even if they never attend any classes.)  So those students, who are possibly as much as 20-25% of enrollment, take up the "seats" and sap up financial aid that others need to graduate even though they don't actually go to class, making it harder and harder to have enough sections with enough seats for everyone who needs a certain class at a certain time.  And so the average graduation time for the serious students who do go to class continues to get longer and longer.  Crazy.

Sorry for such a long post.  :-)
« Last Edit: December 09, 2014, 10:51:05 PM by Zamboni »

Prepube

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 245
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #45 on: December 09, 2014, 11:46:59 PM »
I took 5 years undergrad, 2 years masters, and 4 years for PhD.  I knew no one, even back in the mid 80s when I was an undergrad, who finished in four years.  I have never understood why everyone feels they must put a time frame on their education.  It's not a "four-year school", it's an education.  It takes some folks a little longer, esp. if they want to complete their education with no debt, as I did.  My sister, who also has a doctorate, blazed through school and graduated with 70k debt. And no job.  I went to state schools and worked my way through, immediately went to work afterwards at one of the places I interned.  We need to shift away from talking about education in terms of how much time it takes to complete... I don't feel like I will ever be done becoming educated, though school has been complete for over 25 years.

hdatontodo

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
  • Location: Balto Co, MD
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #46 on: December 10, 2014, 11:44:33 AM »
For those whose parents prepaid a 529, it is certainly worth trying to finish an in-demand degree like Materials Engineering so that you aren't losing the opportunity of making $50K+ per year when you start work. Have to take an extra 6 mos = have $25K+ less income.

Gerard

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1406
  • Location: eastern canada
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #47 on: December 13, 2014, 03:54:36 PM »
A lot of my students take more than 4 years to finish. Partly because our programme attracts a lot of people who transfer from other disciplines and thus have extra courses to make up. Partly because tuition is pretty low, so it makes sense to take an extra year to build up your CV by volunteering or working in labs, taking extra courses that prepare you for grad school, etc. I can't say I blame them. University is so easy and fun compared to working full time.

I have a question for folks here, though: don't your universities allow you to go in the summer? Why would people in a hurry even take four years? When I did my second undergrad, I only went full time for two years (transferred a few credits and took 2 courses part time before going FT, but most of it was from taking an overload and going in the summer).

RWD

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3691
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #48 on: December 13, 2014, 07:16:57 PM »
I have a question for folks here, though: don't your universities allow you to go in the summer? Why would people in a hurry even take four years? When I did my second undergrad, I only went full time for two years (transferred a few credits and took 2 courses part time before going FT, but most of it was from taking an overload and going in the summer).

My first summer in college I took one class while working full time. My internships in my third and fourth years were in different cities though, so summer classes weren't really an option.

Lanthiriel

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 802
  • Location: Portlandia
Re: Most college students don't earn degree in 4 years?!
« Reply #49 on: December 13, 2014, 08:03:43 PM »
I did my Bachelor's in two years after high school, including taking a full-time summer course load (so, really, it was 5 semesters). I took a few AP classes in high school, but it was doing Washington State's Running Start program in my senior year of high school that gave me the advantage. When I went, you only had to pay for books if you were still in high school (now I think you pay a reduced rate). I already knew which university I wanted to attend (and, frankly, that they would admit me), so I focused on classes that would transfer and knocked out more than a year of pre-reqs. Then I turned around and finished a Masters degree in 18 months.

My husband, on the other hand, graduated with a BS at 30 after two other majors and four other schools.

At the end of the day, I sort of wish I had taken it slower. Sure, I was able to start my "career" earlier, and I'm doing fine, but I think I'd have chosen a different major if I'd done the traditional "find yourself" college experience. My sister will finish her degree right on schedule in June after getting an AA in 1.5 years of community college and attending a university for 2.5 years. She started in one program, but after taking an elective, realized she absolutely loved another one. She was able to combine the two programs and will be graduating with a pretty cool degree. I think I was just so focused on getting it done that I had my blinders up to other opportunities.

Ah well, lesson learned, I suppose.