Ambitious, driven students throughout history have always been able to graduate quicker than their peers, but some young adults want to finish college faster to save money. Select colleges and universities are already offering new “fast-track” bachelor’s degree programs to help students pay less and other schools have three-year degree options in the pipeline. Why pay tuition and fees for four years when you can earn your degree in three?
Elite private colleges and universities have cost more to attend than their less-selective, public counterparts for at least a century, but drastic tuition increases coupled with funding cuts have students struggling to attend state universities and community colleges, once considered more affordable options. According to the New York Times, current college tuition and fees are 559 percent of their cost in 1985.
Four years of tuition and fees, room and board, textbooks, supplies and other college-related expenses can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars, as the massive student loan debt in the United States can attest.
In part responding to students’ and parents’ concerns about the rising cost of college, a growing number of schools are offering three-year degree programs. The programs are appealing to students as well as the colleges. Not only can degrees be earned faster while students spend less money on their educations, the colleges and universities hope to attract more students and therefore increase enrollment.
“I saved a lot of money, and I got to do everything that I wanted to,” one recent 3-year college graduate told USA Today.
However, programs aiming toward speedier college graduation are not without critics. “It’s as if they put students on a conveyer belt and just speed them up and spray them with a fire hose and the students catch what they can,” is the opinions of Southern New Hampshire University professor Marty Bradley, who began a three-year program in 1997. Other skeptics argue that a school’s resources should be used to focus on students who are at risk of dropping out rather than ambitious students who want to complete college faster.
for students wishing to earn their bachelor’s degrees in three years (in at least some majors) include:
Learn more about these and other colleges at StateUniversity.com
Keep in mind that a formal 3 year degree program is not necessary to graduate sooner than expected. If your college (or the college that you are planning to attend) does not offer an official fast-track or three-year degree program, it’s still possible to work your way through school faster. Here are a few ideas:
Dual enrollment. Utilize dual-enrollment programs during high school to earn college credit and get required core classes like English out of the way before you even begin your freshman year of college.
AP Classes. Take Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school and pass the corresponding AP exams to earn college credit.
Take advantage of flat rate tuition. Take as many college courses per semester as possible. Many colleges charge all full-time students a flat rate tuition if they are taking anywhere from twelve to eighteen credits. You might be able to take five courses during the semester rather than four yet pay the same price.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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