College is taking longer and costing more for students

In Opinion
(Courtesy of flickr)

With graduation nearing for some, it’s only a matter of time before others start questioning when it’s time to walk the plank themselves. But even if that momentous time will take longer than the traditional four years to get to, it’s nothing to fret about.

Planning the exact time of graduation is beginning to be a sick joke. Part of this is the lack of a proper gauge that students need for the time spent in college. The paths students are taking nowadays severely diverge those taken 20 to 30 years ago.

Looking at recent studies, it’s no surprise that the traditional four-year plan is beginning to lengthen.

Only 19 percent of students on a four-year plan are graduating on time, according to a 2014 study by Complete College America, a nonprofit that compiles research for colleges.

“The reality is that our system of higher education costs too much, takes too long, and graduates too few,“ the study found.

As of 2016, over half of students are graduating within a six-year time frame at a public university, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Graduating on time is a difficult task for these individuals, to say the least. Many factors are going against students, whether it’s obstacles at school or at home. And for the most part, prices continue to be an ongoing issue for most college students.

Tuition prices for a public four-year university in state rose 2.4 percent––from $9,500 to $9,650 a year––for the 2016-2017 school year, according to data from CollegeBoard. For a private nonprofit institution, tuition prices have risen 3.6 percent.

That’s not even counting room and board, which has been steadily on the rise as well.

The typical college experience costs over $20,000 to $45,000 now, depending on where a student goes, the study found.

Education expenditures aren’t a recent issue as it’s been talked about for decades that prices are on the rise. The school is more interested in adding more facilities than reducing the number of years until graduation.

If a student on campus was questioned on when they will graduate, they will most likely respond with a chuckle that symbolizes it is going to be a long road.

It’s almost maniacal, this idea of graduating “on time.” So much so that it’s something that needs to be put into quotes to emphasize how it’s an outdated idea.

Other than certain expenditures, there are four main reasons why graduation times have lengthened, according to USA Today College. The four are a lack of planning or advising, changing majors, transferring and unnecessary courses.

These problems are all something students have spoken about to one another in the form of a rant.

Advising takes too long for not enough of a payout, transferring is as much of a hassle as graduating, there’s no end to the debate on GE courses and there’s always a chance of ending up on a waitlist for a class. The only one that can be argued against is changing majors.

About 50 to 70 percent of students change their majors at least once, according to a study conducted by the University of La Verne.

But the problem with this is that when a student changes majors, some classes do not fulfill other credit for courses. Say they change it after three years of schooling, most of the classes they have taken thus far will only correspond with the major they’ve switched from, which will, in effect, make them extend their graduation date. Sadly, this problem comes from a lack of understanding the system that should be focused on with advising from the beginning of the year.

On top of an extended graduation date, the cost for each extra year added on top of the four-year graduation period is more than $3,000. Time is money.

Although there is a vast amount of money and time spent in college, it’s good to know that everyone is in the same boat. It doesn’t fix anything, but it can spur conversation that can lead to a healthy change in the way people view college.

Hopefully, students can start understanding that graduating shouldn’t be rushed. It takes patience to earn that diploma, not time. There’s a difference.

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