As the “Finishing in Four is a Myth” Op Ed piece points out, a college degree should be made up of enriching, diverse, life changing expereinces. Taking advantage of opportunities in college and balancing responsibilities of work and family can be difficult. The most effect way to maximize your college experience is to build a 4-year plan to complete your degree see the 4-year templates at (this link) . By completing a plan with an academic advisor, students can map out their required courses over time, include essential expereinces (internships, leadership, research), and factor in life’s demands. Since course sequencing can be critical in some majors and degree plans, it is crucial to know what needs to be taken when in order to avoid costly delays to graduation.
You can informally develop a 4-year plan using the plans posted on the Finish in Four website or as a freshman enroll in the Finish in Four program. A 4-year plan, of any sort, does not deprive students of enriching co- or extracurricular experiences, rather it encourages students to proactively plan for these experiences. In many cases, a semester abroad, undergraduate research experience, or internship can be built into a four year plan using elective credits and/or existing program requirements. Again, the idea is to think ahead and develop a holistic plan with goals and timelines in mind. Once you have the plan developed, you can alter it as needed.
In terms of finances, there are many benefits of earning a degree in four years. If you are a full-time student, every “extra” semester costs nearly $3000 in tuition – this means a 6-year graduation could cost $12000 more! These costs are in addition to a potential delay into the full-time workforce so earning power may be reduced. Recent changes in federal financial aid policies require that students demonstrate progress toward a degree in order to remain eligible. In fact, Pell Grants are now capped at 6 years. The last thing we’d want for our students is to not complete a degree by the time their Pell Grant eligibility runs out! Furthermore, for many students receiving subsidized or un-subsidized loans, delaying graduation results in more debt, lost post-graduation wages, and more accrued interest. We believe a Boise State degree is of high value, and we’re committed to getting our students graduated and onto their careers or post-graduate studies in good time.
Although the Finish in Four program may not be a good fit for every last student, we strongly encourage developing a plan for graduation – be in a Finish in 4.5 or Five or even Six. Proactive academic planning with an academic advisor is well worth your time!
Sharon McGuire – Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies