Graduating in four years may be less important to some of today’s CSU students than others.
“It’s definitely worth staying longer in school if I found something I really want to do,” said Valerie Weidner, a freshman at CSU. Valerie intends to change her major from zoology to music therapy. “As long as I’m doing what I want to do, four years is no different than five.”
Although students’ sentiments toward graduation may be changing, graduation rates have steadily risen. According to Keith Ickes, associate vice president for administrative services, CSU’s four-year graduation rates have increased in the past 10 years from 22 percent to 31 percent of entering freshmen. Ickes attributes this to more motivated students.
“Students are better prepared out of high school,” Ickes said. “Their index scores are higher and they keep a strong academic score their senior year.”
The benefits of graduating in four years are numerous, Ickes said. Students can begin earning money rather than spending money.
In four years, about 30 to 31percent of this year’s entering freshmen will graduate, according to Ickes. In five years, about 25 percent will graduate. In six years, about 61 to 62 percent of today’s freshmen will have graduated.
CSU has a high graduation rate compared to the national level, Ickes said.
“Advisors encourage graduating in four years because of economic contexts,” he said, “They want (students) to get on with their careers.”
CSU is also an accredited university, and may lose accreditation if enough students aren’t graduating in four years.
However, graduating in four years is not always easy. Many students work during their college careers and don’t take full loads of classes. Many parents and students are not concerned about a four-year graduation plan.
Ickes says that radically changing a major, for example, from a science to a business program, may hold some students back if the prerequisites are very different. He says by closely working with an adviser, the setbacks should be minimal.
The key to graduating in four years is to enter college knowing where you want to go, having a better idea about a major and working with advisers, Ickes said.
A four-year plan should be easily accomplished in almost all departments, he says. However, some colleges may have more credit requirements than others, such as the engineering department.
Mike Jaramillo, director of student services for the College of Business, says that due to today’s falling economy, it is becoming more attractive to stay a student.
“Students are adding a concentration, finishing a minor or going to grad school,” he said. “They want to expand their knowledge base and make themselves more marketable.”
There are many other factors involved in whether or not a student graduates in four years, said Jaramillo. Such factors are curriculum and resources, such as CSU having the funds to offer seats to students in needed classes.
Jaramillo believes that employers look at students who are intelligent, have high GPAs (3.0 or higher) and are active and involved in school, rather than how many years it takes to graduate.
Students who want to graduate in four years have to discipline themselves carefully, said Ickes. They have to focus on their studies and keep up with class.