As the continually-rising cost to go to college puts more pressure on the ability of students to do so, one of the distinct casualties, outside of the most obvious one, has proven to be the ability to actually finish school in a timely fashion. The bachelor’s degree has also been less formally called a four-year degree for as long as anyone can remember, and the reason for that has been the historical structuring of the program requirements over four academic years. However, the data reveals that it has been years since most bachelor’s degree students have earned their degrees within four years, and while that may seem unfortunate to some, the shift in the overall trend has essentially eliminated any stigma that may have once existed over failing to graduate in four years. The silver lining to that is the greater freedom now afforded a student who wishes to take a more measured approach, from a personal financial standpoint, to earning his degree.
According to Department of Education figures, roughly a third of all students beginning bachelor’s degree programs actually finish in four years, and nearly 60 percent complete their studies in six years. However, although taking longer to graduate from college has historically been perceived more negatively, not only is that no longer the case, but careful management of a work-study balance en route to a prized degree can actually make an extended timeline genuinely beneficial. As to the former, because the number of students requiring longer than four years to graduate is so substantial, no one in that group is now considered unusual on that singular basis by anyone, including prospective employers. Additionally, taking longer to finish a degree program affords the earnest individual more time to work while studying, which, in turn, gives him the chance to have more fully paid for school by his graduation date.
Old habits die hard, so it’s not likely that we’ll stop alternatively referring to bachelor’s degrees as four-year degrees anytime soon, but the term has largely been a misnomer for a while now. That said, the shift to earning the coveted bachelor’s degree over a longer period is not only not seen as a bad thing anymore, but it can actually be a big help to the person seeking to emerge from his studies without a mountain of debt as a burdensome companion; in fact, taking a modestly slower route to graduation, one that provides more opportunity to earn the money that can be applied directly to tuition and other related costs, may actually be the superior one to travel these days.
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