I recently came across an opinion piece on CNN, entitled “Why We Need the Three Year College Degree”, that I wanted to share with you today. I bring this to your attention for the simple reason that I agree with many of the points made in the article, and am curious to know your thoughts as well. Read on…
The main points made in the article are as follows:
- We have a little problem called the “student debt crisis” in this country – believe me, I know! There’s still no light at the end of my personal student debt tunnel, but one day, maybe, somehow all those student loans will be paid back…but I digress! The point is that having in place a three-year bachelor’s degree program instead of a four-year degree program means one year less of having to take out loans for school – instant savings! As a related U.S. News & World Report article states, “Paying eight semesters’ worth of tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other fees can add up to tens of thousands of dollars—and that’s only if you finish college in four years. For about 60% of students, the college experience takes at least another semester before graduation.” And the debt grows, and grows, and grows…
- Three year degree programs are not a radical new idea but, rather, are the norm in many countries. In fact, I’ve given an earlier example on this very blog – the excellent university colleges in the Netherlands! At Amsterdam University College, for instance, the cost of tuition per year is 4,076 euro ($4,507) for Dutch and EU students, and 11,666 euro ($12,902) for non-EU students. This times THREE YEARS (instead of four) equals $38,706 as the cost for an American student to earn his/her undergraduate degree – you don’t need to be John Nash to realize that this is a great deal.
- Making college a three year commitment could help to address our less-than-stellar college completion rates. Remember, a school’s graduation rate is a crucial statistic to consider when thinking about where to apply (and you might be surprised at just how low graduation rates are at some colleges and universities)! Saving students both time and money via a three year degree program could very well be one realistic way to help boost graduation rates.
- With 4th year students no longer on campus, a college’s capacity would increase, allowing the school to increase the number of students in each incoming class.
Furthermore, the CNN opinion piece doesn’t stipulate that all colleges and universities should take the three year bachelor’s degree route, but rather that the three year degree should be an option at many schools, and especially for those students who receive federal aid. You’ll be happy to know that they also elaborate on how this could be achieved:
“A better approach would be for schools and their accreditors to rethink their curriculum. For example, reducing the number of electives, cutting back on core requirements or shifting to shorter semesters are all options that schools could use to move to a three-year bachelors and improve the educational experience.”
In case you’ve been inspired, even in the slightest, by the CNN article or this post, here are some examples of three year degree programs in the United States, made available to you by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) – just click here!
I don’t think that the suggestion of a three year bachelor’s degree is such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea – what are your thoughts?