Magazine article University Business

Why Not More Three-Year College Degrees? Accelerated Programs Mean More Productive Graduates and Less Student Debt

Magazine article University Business

Why Not More Three-Year College Degrees? Accelerated Programs Mean More Productive Graduates and Less Student Debt

Article excerpt

WHY DO SO FEW AMERICAN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES OFFER three-year bachelor's degrees?

This option, which has a long history in Britain, is almost unknown here. One would think, with the cost of education rising, that the U.S. market would respond with accelerated degree programs to enable students to graduate more quickly with less student-loan debt, and a chance to go on a payroll a full year earlier.

Yet among approximately 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States, fewer than 20 offer three-year bachelor's degree options. Among them, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (www.naicu.edu), are Bates College (ME), Valparaiso University (IN), Waldorf Cortege (IA), Upper Iowa University, and a few others.

Add Green Mountain College to the list. Our first class of three-year bachelor's degree earners graduated in June. These newest alumni and alumnae are graduates of our Resort Management Program offered in cooperation with Killington Resort, the largest ski area in the East.

At a time when fewer than half of the students attending public universities in the United States graduate in five years, these dedicated students did it in three. While their annual tuition was slightly higher than the fee paid by our four-year students, they saved, on average, a total of $6,166 in tuition compared to those graduating in four years. In addition, they received healthy stipends for their co-op work on site, earning nearly $12,000 over their three years.

And those who plan to go directly into the work force have good jobs waiting for them, largely because of the required paid experience each year at Killington or other resorts. These students were able to demonstrate to potential employers what they could do, and that chance led to full-time employment opportunity.

As we've watched this first class closely, several things have become apparent to me. First, there is a market for three-year bachelor's degree programs and more colleges should recognize that. Not everyone needs to spend four, five, or six years on the bachelor's degree path.

So, why the emphasis on the four-year plan? The very fact that traditional four-year programs so infrequently result in students actually graduating in four years should be an indicator to the academy that there is nothing sacred about that number--at least from the viewpoint of students. …

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