A Degree with a Guarantee? (Pros and Cons)
In an effort to increase enrollment rates, a few private and public colleges throughout the U.S. have made a commitment to graduate bachelor's degree-seeking students in four years. The Student Saver reviews the pros and cons of this degree guarantee initiative.
About the 4-Year Guarantee
The promise of contributing colleges is that if participants are not able to graduate because of a delay for which the university was responsible, the institution will cover the added costs to attend school until a degree is earned. In order to participate in this program, interested students must typically elect to enroll as freshmen and select their major shortly thereafter. To make sure they are on track, they will need to meet with an academic advisor frequently. In addition, students must take on a full-time course load, generally at least 15 credits each semester, and maintain a minimum GPA.
Earning a college degree in four years may seem like a dream to some, saving college attendees time and money. However, participants who want to earn a minor, specialty certificate or field-specific certification may not be able to graduate in four years; consequently, some majors that require additional training, such as education and nursing, may not qualify. What's more, students who are bogged down with classes and studies may not get a chance to absorb the entire college experience, perhaps finding it difficult to fully participate in on-campus life, take part in extracurricular activities or work a part-time job.
It's likely that some students will succumb to an enormous amount of stress, feeling the burden to complete on time. Let's not forget, this is also a period when many young adults are still trying to figure out what kind of career they want to have, and such a program will not assist students who may decide to change majors midway.
The rising costs of tuition and fees seem to make this a viable option considering that the completion time for over half of all university undergraduates is six years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Incidentally, most of the schools offering a 4-year graduation guarantee are private not-for-profit institutions, schools that according to a 2010 College Board publication have an average annual tuition of about $27,000 and nearly $37,000 with room and board. Students participating in a 4-year graduation guarantee program will also have the benefit of frequent personalized assistance and academic mentoring. Participating in such a program could also allow college graduates to get started in the workforce sooner, providing a jumpstart out of the red.