Three-year college unrealistic

March 6, 2009 — by Robin Liu

Imagine being able to save an entire year of college tuition, savings that could add up to over $40,000. With a three-year college program, students can complete their degree in just three years, while still leaving summers free for internships and job opportunities. Despite these seemingly limitless benefits, however, securing a degree after only three years of college is detrimental to undergraduate study.

According to The New York Times, Hartwick College, a liberal arts school in Oneonta, N.Y., will offer students the option of completing a degree in three years, with savings of more than $40,000. The three-year program will only be offered to students with at least a 3.0 high school GPA and will be available in 22 of the college’s 31 programs. For families struggling financially, this option can lift the burden of having unpaid student loans.

For students at Saratoga High considering this program at other universities, however, the negative aspects far outweigh any possible benefits. Completing a degree in just three years is unrealistic. The number of credits required per year is too heavy a load for most college students to handle. In addition, many large public and private universities may not have enough slots in required courses for prospective three-year graduates to enroll and finish their core curriculum credits. This limitation on enrollment would also mean many three year grads would need to forego elective classes and take only the absolute minimum to graduate, an act which would narrow their focus greatly.

The pace of courses when completing a degree in only three years also forces students to be entirely sure of their career path after college, a situation that is rarely seen among undergraduate students. Attempting to secure a degree in three years robs students of precious time required to decide what is best for them in the future.

Procuring a degree in four years is a far better option. In addition to allowing for a more relaxed class schedule, students who pursue a degree in four years can take classes of varying interest, pursuing other passions unrelated to their major. Social life for students is also better when they pursue a degree over the span of four years. There is more time to meet new people and get involved with other activities on campus. With graduate schools constantly looking for more well-rounded students, being active in many ways other than academically is critical for those who want to continue with their studies past the undergraduate level.

Graduating in four years is already a challenge at many universities; the idea of finishing a degree in three, while economically appealing, is preposterous for students and would greatly affect the quality of not only their education, but also their entire college experience.

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