Did you know that at most public universities, only 19 percent of full-time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years? Even at state flagship universities—selective, research-intensive institutions—only 36 percent of full-time students complete their bachelor’s degree on time.
Nationwide, only 50 of more than 580 public four-year institutions graduate a majority of their full-time students on time. Some of the causes of slow student progress are inability to register for required courses, credits lost in transfer and remediation sequences that do not work. Studying abroad can also contribute to added time and credits lost when abroad. According to a recent report from CompleteCollege.org some students take too few credits per semester to finish on time. The problem is even worse at community colleges, where 5 percent of full-time students earned an associate degree within two years, and 15.9 percent earned a one- to two-year certificate on time.
What is lost when you don’t graduate in 4 years?
Paul Hemphill of Planning for College put it into perspective recently. Each additional year a student attends college there is a $70,052 added cost: the cost of attending and extra year of $24,725 and the lost wages of $45,327. It’s not just the cost of the education that you lose, but the earning potential over the additional year or years. Nothing speaks louder than cold, hard numbers.
According to the report by CompleteCollege.org, Americans spend 1.5 billion a year when students don’t graduate in four years with the required credits. Because of these astounding figures, it makes sense to maximize your time in college, plan ahead, and take every opportunity to ensure on-time graduation.
How can students ensure on-time graduation?
It’s not a difficult task, although the numbers might speak otherwise. Taking control of the process and making a plan will go a long way in ensuring on-time graduation.
- Look at the numbers
Nothing speaks louder than evaluating the loss of even one year of additional schooling.
- Plan your major and degree plan, ensuring it can be done in 4 years
Plan and ask questions of your advisors, and have solid discussions about your career and/or anticipated major. But be persistent. According to the above study, there is only one advisor
- Maximize AP testing and dual-credit courses
With AP testing and dual-credit courses, a student can enter college with multiple credits out of the way. The cost of these tests and courses pales in comparison to the cost of a college credit and extra money paid if you don’t graduate on time. It’s conceivable that with the right planning, you can even graduate in less than 4 years.
- Attend community college for the basics during the summer before college
Not only will you get some courses out of the way at a cheaper rate, you will enter college with credits under your belt.
- Examine the facts
When you look at the big picture, it’s important to graduate on time, especially if your parents can only contribute for 4 years. After that, the cost will entirely up to you—another motivation!
Students entering college should make a goal to graduate in 4 years or less. It can be done and the consequences of not doing it should be motivation enough to assure that it happens.