Four years is enough, thank you

James Vaughn

When I came to college, I anticipated many changes, such as freedom, independence, shorter school days, pursuing personal interests, new scenery and new friends. But there’s one difference between high school and college that I didn’t want to see – four years.

According to CNN Money: Education Trust, an independent nonprofit organization, only 37 percent of first-time college freshmen complete a bachelor’s degree in four years. Another 26 percent take five or six years, while the remaining 37 percent take breaks or don’t graduate at all.

While I’m guilty of switching my major more than once, I’m innocent when it comes to other common assumptions about prolonging a college education, including having a lack of funds, working full-time, transferring schools, flunking courses or experiencing family crises.


Personally, I blame the university’s tactics in trying to produce a “well-rounded education.” As a journalism major, not only do I have to take 44 credit hours in my major, but I also can’t take any more than 44 hours of courses in communications. Considering that I dabbled in radio/television and public relations, I already have taken two courses that I need for my major that won’t count toward the 124 hours required for graduation.

That means that my idea of a receiving a “well-rounded education,” which involves diversifying my knowledge of communications by taking courses in other disciplines like broadcasting, will only set me back a semester or two. When it comes to the core curriculum, 50 hours is outrageous. There are certain courses that are, in my opinion, a waste of time and money.

I’ve found that humanities and ethics are very similar, yet students have to take nine hours of related courses. Also, if I wanted to be a scientist, I’d major in biology or physics or something – not liberal arts. Therefore, requiring three science courses in the core is ridiculous – one would suffice. These problems are altering the four-year graduation norm.

It’s not just the core curriculum that’s the problem, though. Think about it.

The core is 50 credit hours, majors are typically around 40 and minors are approximately 20. That’s 110 credit hours, 124 of which are required for graduation.

That means that students who know what they want to do from the very beginning are stuck paying for three to five bogus courses beyond the already excessive requirements. It also leaves students who decide against a minor with even more bullshit “electives” added to their curriculum.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to graduate in four years. It’s just not the norm anymore, and I’m sure most students would prefer it be. While postponing the real world doesn’t sound so bad, it’s not on my agenda, and it’s certainly not good for my wallet.