4 Reasons Why You Should Aim to Graduate in 4 Years

Many students take longer than four years to graduate from college, often to their own detriment. Read on for four reasons why you should strive to graduate on time.

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch. — John F. Kennedy

The plot of the college comedy National Lampoon’s Van Wilder involves the trials and tribulations of a seventh-year senior whose father is threatening to cut him off financially unless he graduates. While the concept of a student taking seven years to finish college may make for some great laughs in a movie, the reality of it is not quite so amusing.

Citing statistics compiled by the Department of Education, a recent Time article reported that less than 40% of college students manage to graduate in four years, and nearly 60% of students take six years to graduate. “Slow and steady” may have won the race for the tortoise, but when it comes to your education and your future career, time is of the essence. Here are four reasons why you should work toward graduating on time.

1. You’ll save on tuition

Even with scholarships and financial aid, college costs add up. Why pay for five or more years of tuition when you only need to pay for four? Plus, many schools have tuition caps, meaning that you pay the same tuition rate whether you’re taking 12 hours or 18 hours. That can add up to a huge savings over the course of your time in college. Try to take more than 12 hours each semester, and consider taking winter session, Maymester, and summer courses as well.

2. You’ll save on student loan interest

If you have or are planning on taking out student loans, you should be aware that some loans begin accruing interest while you’re still in school—which means that if you take longer than four years to graduate, you’ll end up paying more in interest than you need to and your loans will take longer to pay off.

3. It will demonstrate your follow-through ability

Few things look better on a résumé than a job applicant’s ability to get things done. Graduating in four years will show employers that you know how to manage your time and finish what you start. And the sooner you land a job, the sooner you’ll start making money, so anything you can do to make yourself a more attractive job candidate is a good idea.

4. You can get on with your life!

College is a blast, for sure. But so is life after college. To quote Roger Babson, founder of Babson College, “Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.” College is designed to prepare you for everything that comes after it, so enjoy your four years, cherish the memories, and then start your next chapter—whether it’s grad school, the career you’ve been dreaming of, or some other grand adventure.

Now that you know why you should graduate in four years, check out this expert advice on how to do it.

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About Stephanie Farah

Stephanie Farah

Stephanie is a former writer and senior editor for Carnegie Darlet and CollegeXpress. Stephanie holds a BA in English from the University of Texas at Austin and a master's in Journalism from the University of North Texas. At various times she has been: an uncertain undergrad, a financial aid recipient, a transfer applicant, and a grad student with an assistantship and a full ride. Stephanie is an avid writer, traveler, cook, and dog owner. 


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