Most students take much longer to graduate from college–here’s why
According to a new report from Complete College America, a majority of students at American public colleges do not graduate on time. Only 19% of full time students earn a bachelor’s degree in four years. The non-profit profit group, based in Indianapolis, released the latest report, Four Year Myth, this month, revealing that the extra time costs students and their families tens of thousands of dollars in extra college expenses, as well as wages from delaying entry into the workforce.
Only 50 out of the hundreds of public four-year institutions in America have on-time graduation rates at or above 50% for full-time students. Don’t count CCNY among those 50. According to US News and World Report, yes, we rank #65 on the Best Regional Universities (North) 2015 list and number 1 for diversity, but CCNY’s 4-year graduation rate is only 9%.
Though the rate is low, it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise at our urban commuter campus where so many students juggle school, family and work. But other factors exist. Too often, class credit creates problems. The report states that most full-time students do not take the credits necessary to graduate on schedule (15 credits per semester and 30 credits per year), instead choosing lighter course loads that put them on five to six-year plans.
That’s what happened to Ava Asencio, an ad/PR student, who expected to graduate this coming spring of 2015, but was not aware that taking 12 credits per semester would force her to stay another semester in order to graduate. “My advisor gave me the impression that if I took 12 credits a semester instead of 15, I would be on track, and that was clearly a lie,” says Asencio, 21. The report states that only half of students at four-year institutions take enough credits to graduate on time.
“Once I started to see that the credits weren’t adding up I tried to get myself back on track but I couldn’t overwhelm myself with so many classes,” Asencio adds. “So my only option is another semester.”
Other causes the Complete College America report highlights: the unavailability of needed courses; students juggling school, family, and work, making class schedules harder; excessive degree requirements; and an average of only 1 advisor for every 400 students. According to the report, with so many majors to choose from and no clear direction, overwhelmed students make avoidable mistakes based on uninformed choices.
Jenee Hill, 21, a senior graduating in the spring, admits that her advisors haven’t been really helpful. “I planned out all of my classes myself because advisors aren’t on your side; they are on the school’s side,” she says. “I see my classmates struggling to finish because they trusted their word, and it’s heartbreaking because college isn’t something to be played with, it’s like emotions.”
“I didn’t take a break. I took winter and summer classes until now,” Hill adds. “I’m taking a winter class just to make sure that I do graduate on time.”