The estimated time it should take for a student to complete a bachelor’s degree is four years. However, with some students changing their major multiple times or retaking courses, universities are seeing students graduate in five or six.
Some students also delay entry into the job market by going to graduate school. This is not a bad thing, but some may be staying in school out of fear of the real world.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, USF retained 88 percent of full-time students working on a bachelor’s degree and 71 percent of part-time students from 2007 to 2008.
However, the graduation rates for students pursuing their degrees were alarming. Only 22 percent of full-time students who began in fall 2000 graduated in four years. Within eight years, 54 percent of students graduated, according to statistics.
Personal or financial situations may occur that hinder students from finishing their college careers in the traditional four-year frame. However, many switch majors because it wasn’t what they expected or they are afraid of searching for a job.
At the University of Wisconsin, officials are trying to push their students to graduate sooner. Students and families are complaining about the lack of available classes, forcing them to stay in school longer. Some retake classes or can’t get into a class for the semester.
High school students are now encouraged to take courses for college credit, so by the time they graduate, they can start college as a sophomore or higher.
A student not completing his or her degree in four years isn’t a new trend. According to the New York Times, a student taking longer to complete a degree has been, and might always be, a problem. Some students may get too involved on campus. Others take only three classes per semester instead of four or five.
Universities have tried several tactics over the years to push students through. At the University of Florida and other colleges, the counseling offices implemented systems to track students in their degree program. Students receive letters from UF asking whether they have a plan for completing their education and whether they have chosen a major.
In California, officials started charging student fees by semester instead of by course, so that a student who takes only one course pays the same as one who takes five.
At USF, there is an excessive hours surcharge, meaning that if a student’s hours exceed by 120 percent the completion requirements for his or her degree program, they will be charged per extra credit hour.
Fear of the current economy shouldn’t keep students from graduating on time. Universities should not have to prod students to graduate. It’s important for students to graduate on time to start getting valuable work experience.
Naomi Prioleau is a junior majoring in mass communications.