Due to a still suffering economy and rising education costs a new way to control college costs is catching on. It’s so simple you have to wonder why no one thought of it until now: it’s the three-year college degree. Even the math is easy: one year less in school will save 25 percent of total tuition costs.
Is it really new?
Anyone could finish college early if they piled on the classes and got enough credits. AP classes, summer classes and heavier course loads have always been options. But this is different; this is a structured three-year degree program. In Europe, thanks to the Bologna Process, three-year degrees are now the norm. And people are asking: Why do we need four years of college?
The current three-year programs still require 120 credits. Therefore, they appeal to the more motivated students.
Where can you find 3-year degrees?
Rhode Island has passed a bill that requires all state schools to create a three-year bachelor’s program by fall 2010. The University of Illinois is also considering it. And, if the economy continues to stumble, the three-year degree may be the only option for many state schools which have no monetary recourse except to raise tuition.
So far Bates College, Franklin & Marshall College, Lipscomb University, Manchester College and Southern New Hampshire University are all offering three-year programs. Within the past month, Arcadia University, Holy Family University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Georgia Southwestern State University have all begun formal three-year degree programs.
Some schools are putting GPA requirements on their accelerated degrees. This focus on students, who excel, granting them priority course registration, may cause the other students even more problems. For example, a lower classman in one of the priority classes could take up a class spot that a senior needs to graduate.
Why rush the college experience?
Many education experts argue that students need more time in school—more time to prepare for the real world and a lifetime of working—not less. Opponents to the three-year degrees are worried about schools cutting back on general education courses and becoming more like vocational schools, with less emphasis on providing a well-rounded liberal arts education.
Although parents might like the idea of saving money, students may not be as excited. Most students want to enjoy their college years, especially their senior year. After all, they can work for the rest of their lives and college is just a short, yet important, chapter.
What do you think? Is a three-year degree a great way to save money? Or, does it rush kids into the workforce too soon?