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Despite Savings, Three Year Degree Not Catching On

Three year degree anyone? They are doing it in Europe where it’s routine for students to get their degree in three years. Yes, it means less socializing, fewer extracurricular activities, and more homework.

Every year, a couple of colleges somewhere in the country will announce that they are offering a “degree-in-three”.  The announcement will create the usual buzz in the national press but, in the end, nothing much comes of it.  Even at the colleges promoting three-year degrees, only a very small percentage of students actually sign up for it.

The fact of the matter is that parents also seem quite uninterested in these programs, despite the $20,000 or so they might save from them.  They just don’t want their kids to miss out on the total college experience.  I have come to believe that these programs don’t do much more than garner some quick publicity for the colleges promoting them and that the degree-in-three is never going to gain much traction.  It’s just not in our cultural DNA.

Since 2008, when Florida State University announced that it was offering several degrees in three years,  fewer than 20 other colleges are offering it. There are seven in the Midwest–Baldwin Wallace, Ball State, Grace College, Judson University, Lake Forest College, Manchester University, and Western Illinois University.

This year, Wesleyan announced it’s new three-year degree program—the most highly selective school so far to embrace the idea    According to Wesleyan President Michael Roth, however, the university’s dean has spoken to only 40 or 50 students who showed interest.  He only expects a handful of those to enroll in it.

It should give parents pause, however, when they realize that on average their students are taking almost six years to earn their undergraduate degree. Is this going to become the new norm? Shouldn’t we start insisting that, at the very least, our students graduate in four years?

Jack Schacht has over 40 years in marketing, management, career development and business leadership. As president of College Funding Advisors and co-founder of My College Planning Team, he brings his unique talents to help families identify and implement strategies that can help them substantially reduce college costs.

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