Monday, October 3, 2011

The Quest to Graduate in Four Years

             Many times, you will hear college graduates talk about their college experience as the best four years of their lives.  In reality, many students are taking five, maybe even six years to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.  We have many programs in place to help students stay on track and save money, such as The Pledge and Finish in Four.  These programs are designed to assist students in identifying an academic program and plan, then making sure they understand the financial cost of fulfilling that program. 
The Pledge guarantees the same tuition rate for eight consecutive semesters.  For example, freshman Arizona residents entering this fall will pay a tuition rate of $8,009 until the 2014 – 2015 academic year.  If students need to continue on for a fifth year, they will be charged the tuition rate for fall 2012.  By the sixth year, students will be charged the same rate as the class entering in fall 2016.  This amount has not been set, but consider the difference in what it will cost to finance that fifth or sixth year for your student!
Our goal is to make sure students are both attempting and earning 15 credit hours each semester in order to graduate in four years.  Here’s the math:

15 credit hours x 2 (semesters in each academic year) = 30 credit hours
30 credit hours x 4 (years) = 120 (the number of credits needed to graduate)

October 28 is the deadline for students to drop individual courses.  Before they make that decision, here are some things for you to ask your student as they consider dropping a course:

How do you feel about your academic progress up to this point?
Encourage your student to be open, honest and realistic about this.  If they require additional assistance through tutoring or Supplemental Instruction, encourage them to seek help now.

Have you met with your professor/instructor about your progress?
This is a key factor in the discussion.  Students should consult with their professors to determine if a withdrawal is the best decision.  They will be able to have discussions with your student about their progress in a particular course.

Have you talked with your academic adviser about how dropping a course will affect your degree progress?
Your student’s academic adviser will be able to discuss options with your son/daughter and be able to show them how dropping a course could potentially play a role in their progression toward graduation.

If you drop this course, will you be able to take the course over the winter or summer school term?
Your student should be aware of course offerings for each term as every course is not offered during each term.  Winter course offerings are available online.

How will dropping this course affect your financial aid package?
Some scholarships and tuition waivers require students to achieve a certain number of credit hours within an academic year for renewal.  Students might have to take additional credits in the spring semester or summer term to make up for dropped courses.  Additionally, students need to be enrolled in 12 credit hours to be considered full-time.  Consult the Office of Financial Aid to inquire.

The best thing you can do as a parent, coach and mentor to your student is to have and express faith in your student.  Remind them of past success and encourage them to buckle down, get motivated and get to work!  There are resources in place to assist, but they must take advantage of them as well.