How to Graduate in Four Years

on August 3, 2017

Many students might expect to go into college and graduate in four years, but, for a majority of students, that’s not the reality.


Less than 40 percent of students who began college in 2009 graduated in four years, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education. Only 60 percent of students who began college in 2009 received their degree in six years.


Although some students think spending extra time in college will be a positive thing, delaying a career while continuing to pay for tuition, books and a place to live has a negative impact on your finacnes, espeically if you have to pay back student loans. In fact, the net loss for staying in college two extra years can be as high as $300,000, according to a study from NerdWallet. 


Many students don’t intend to spend more than four years getting their degree. One of the top reasons students take longer to graduate are financial challenges, said David Hawkins,

executive director for educational content and policy with National Association for College Admission Counseling.


Students also can see their graduation date delayed if they decide to change majors or switch from one college to another. When students change colleges, they can lose credits.


It’s important for student to understand what classes you will need to graduate and map out a potential path for graduation at the start of their freshman year, Hawkins said. But he warns against trying to pack in too many classes, especially in the first year. That can lower grades, which also can lead to additional semesters in college.


“Students can take a larger number of course credits during their freshman year to get ahead,” Hawkins said. “But many who work with first-year students advise against this to ensure that the student can adapt to college life.”


Students should aim for about 15 credits per semester — enough to complete college in four years, but not so many that students overwhelm themselves and burn out.


Hawkins also suggests students take summer classes at their college campus, through online classes offered by their college, or through community colleges closer to home.

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