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Finishing in Four is a Myth

Photo courtesy Boise State University

Dani Evans, a junior majoring in biochemistry with a pre-med emphasis, is exhausted. As a full-time student, she has four tests this week, works two jobs, and barely finds time to do homework and have a social life. This sounds like a college student who has it all planned out and on the way to graduating in four years. But Evans, like many students, will graduate after being in school for six years.
For the majority of students, completing their four-year degree in four years is a struggle.
Here’s one way to look at it: a baby can’t gestate for only six months and expect to be prepared to go home the day its born, so why do we expect students to cram years worth of research and studying into a measly four years? When we entered college, four years seemed like a long time, but as that initial expected graduation date approached, we aren’t ready to venture off into the world.
“I feel like very few people graduate in four years,” Evans said coyly. This doesn’t bother her though, “I love to learn, so I guess I could be a professional student.”
Though there are anomalies to this situation, like students transferring AP credits from high school, or just kicking butt and getting all coursework done within four years (no social life?), it’s uncommon.
We all have lives outside of school: jobs, friends, family, and other commitments. As a commuter school, many students work full-time jobs and have families to take care of. Expecting to take a full course load while either working full-time or having a family is nearly impossible, especially once the student gets into upper division courses.
Boise State does offer a solution to this issue, but you have to enroll in your freshman year. According to the “Finish in Four” website, the goal of the “Finish in Four-Year Graduation Plan” is “is to facilitate, through a contract between the participating student and Boise State University, a student’s goal of graduating from Boise State in four years.” While this does promote a speedy education, are students truly enjoying the college experience?
Part of getting a college education is the experiences that come along with it: parties, sporting events, road trips. But how can you enjoy them if your course load is keeping you from what?
Financial issues can also obstruct a student’s goal of graduating in four years.
According to Boise State’s 2012-2013 “Facts and Figures”, over 15,000 students received some sort of financial aid totaling almost $150,000,000 (for the 2011-2012 school year). That’s over 66 percent of the student population receiving federal loans that will have to be paid back with interest. This lights a fire under the 66 percent  to finish as quickly as possible to avoid accruing more interest.
While the ultimate goal of every student is to graduate, accept your dream job soon after, and move on into the real world, don’t forget to enjoy your time here at Boise State. Don’t focus on the amount of time it takes to graduate. Instead, invest that energy into cherishing the memories you’ve made along the way. Maybe mentor some freshmen and get them to ring the liberty bell a few times. That’ll keep your spirits up.