Graduating Early Has Pros and Cons
Most students take four to six years to graduate from college. Some take longer, but the average is around there. However, with college tuition costs sky-rocketing, some students are trying to cram a four-year degree program into three years.
Now, several schools, including Hartwick College, are redesigning their programs so students can graduate in three years, saving around $50,000.
Carmen Lookshire is a freshman at Hartwick and plans on graduating in only three years.
“It saves a year of tuition, and that’s always a good thing,” Lookshire said. “But it’s also a good challenge. I knew going into the program that I want to attend grad school, and I thought it was a good way to show the schools I’d like to go to that I was committed.”
Lookshire will still have to complete 120-credit hours in order to graduate. So, instead of taking the standard 30 hours a year, she will be taking 40 a year, or 20 a semester.
That seems pretty brutal to me. I would hate to take 20 hours a semester; there would be absolutely no time for having a job or a social life.
Another option to having the 120-credits in the three-years model would be to trim general education courses. This would also allow students to focus more on their major classes, and not spread themselves thin in order to take history of science or math for critical thinking, when these classes have nothing to do with their career path.
“We have an undergraduate curriculum that is in need of pruning, re-engineering, and clearing out the rubble,” says Robert Zemsky, an education professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. “From an educational point of view, I think it would be a stronger curriculum. From a financial viewpoint, it would save families 25 percent.”
Graduating early definitely has its advantages: You don’t have to deal with the stress of midterms and finals, you can get a real job doing something you love, you don’t have to study during the weekends, and you save a year of tuition expenses. However, sometimes it’s not worth losing that last year of college life.
Ryan Schwartz graduated a year early from Stanford University.
“At the time, I was really excited. I was ready to get out into the real world. And Stanford was ridiculously expensive,” he said.
However, Schwartz said graduating early had its downside as well.
“College gives an opportunity for you to really expand on your vision for your life. By finishing in such a short time, you miss out on widening your horizons.”
Via the CS Monitor