In high school, teachers encouraged us to take dual credit college classes so we could graduate college on time (or early even). I had 12 hours of college credits when I graduated high school. I thought for sure I would graduate early.
My first real college class was in the fall of 2007. I took at least 12 hours every semester. Most semesters I took 15 or more hours. But it still somehow took me five years to graduate. WTF?
Apparently I’m not alone. In Texas, only 24% of students are able to graduate college in four years. (Click where your state ranks in grad stats.) Since last year, the number of students nationally who took 6 years to graduate increased by 2% (to an overall 59%). At two year schools it’s even worse. Only 31% of students at two-year school got their degree in two years. (Check out the source.)
Why is it taking us so long to graduate and what can we do about it?
- One big problem I had was disorder and obliviousness of college advisors. I had one adviser in college who was really great, and told me exactly the right classes I needed. The rest of them volunteered incorrect advice that landed me with several classes that didn’t transfer and/or I didn’t need. The solution to this shitty problem is being organized yourself. Do everything you can to educate yourself about graduation and degree plans at your school. Stay on top of registering for classes, and be aware of prerequisites.
- Don’t change your major late in the game. Try to experiment as much as you can while you are a freshman and sophomore. If you want to graduate in four years, you need to make a decision junior year, and you need to stick to it.
- Never take less than 12 hours a semester. I know you have a lot going on, but you will never be able to finish all the required hours if you’re taking less than 12 a semester.
- If you get behind, take summer and mini-mester classes. If you’re behind, this is a great way to catch up quickly. It sucks to pay so much for one or two classes, and it sucks to be in class during the summer. But it sucks a lot more to take longer than 4 years to graduate.
- Don’t overdo it with your majors and minors. I met several people who said they were double majoring in two incredibly difficult/completely different majors who either quit school completely or dropped a major after realizing how long it takes. They wasted a ton of time (and money) on a major they didn’t finish, and it extended their graduation time.