Myth: Most Students Graduate In Four Years

Students at graduation

Flickr user John Walker

The majority of undergrad programs are designed in such as way that students are expected to complete the curriculum in a total of eight semesters. In an ideal world, all students would graduate in four years.

The Four Year Myth

Unfortunately, in the real world, most students do not graduate within four years. If you find yourself heading in that direction, you’re not alone. Several studies done over the years indicate that most students take on average about five years to graduate, and that only 36% of full-time students at flagship schools graduate “on time.”

Given stringent general and major requirements needed to graduate, it’s not a surprise that it takes longer than four years for most. Additionally, about 1/3rd of students transfer schools at some point in their college career, which almost always results in tacking on an additional few semesters to make up for the switch.

Why You Should Try To Graduate in Four Years

However, if you able to graduate in four years, you should. Graduating on time offers two compelling benefits:

For one thing, you will save a substantial amount by way of college tuition. College tuition is expensive, and one full year’s tuition can add to your overall debt considerably.

Secondly, taking longer to graduate also means having to delay your earning potential by one year. While you are still in college completing your final year, your classmates will already be out there getting work experience and earning a living.

While it is a fact that most students take longer than four years to graduate, you should do all you can to avoid going down this path. The cost of tuition for the additional year of study combined with the loss of earning potential can make the decision to delay graduation a very expensive one.

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