An interesting, if not enlightening, read. I have to agree. Four years is a myth for a lot of people. Here’s a taste.
For many college students today, Rajabi’s predicament is commonplace. College is pretty much sold as a four-year stint. But take a look at the statistics and you’ll find it’s far from that simple. On average, both public and private schools are graduating just 37 percent of their full-time students within four years, according to a 2008 analysis by the American Enterprise Institute, a D.C.-based public-policy think tank. That’s about a 3 percent slowdown from the 1990s, and a 10 percent drop from the 1960s, says the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. But experts expect these dismal numbers to sink even further. With the economy in the dumps, school budgets being slashed, and more students than ever attending college, getting an undergraduate degree in four fast years could one day become as unlikely as finishing in three is now. “In the short run, the fiscal pressures on colleges and universities, particularly in the public sector, are likely to lead to a decrease in four-year graduation rates,” says Andrew Kelly, American Enterprise Institute research fellow in education policy.
When colleges and universities report their graduation rates to the federal government, they are more likely to use a six-year benchmark, not four, because it’s more realistic. But students tend not to think about timing when they sign up for college orientation. “Right now, most American students plan their futures and save money for college assuming that a bachelor’s degree is a four-year commitment,” says José Cruz, vice president of the Education Trust, a national student-advocacy group. “But that simply isn’t the reality on most college campuses.” What’s more, that falling four-year grad rate may eventually shift the overall timeline approach to college down the road. “As more and more students fail to finish in four years, it is becoming acceptable to work ‘toward’ a degree,” says education consultant Donald Asher, “rather than to have a plan and follow that plan to that finish line.”