As college costs rise, many states are exploring three-year bachelor’s degrees at public universities, reports College Bound. Increasingly, students arrive with Advanced Placement or dual-enrollment credits. If they’re willing to work hard, they can save money and start earning earlier.
However, The Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree: Reform Measure or Red Herring? leans toward the herring.
Not many participate in these fast-track programs. It’s not suited for many students who work, rely on Pell Grants (which are no longer available year-round), or lack the academic preparation for college, the report suggests.
Getting a program going has costs and requires key changes in campus operations. This investment may not pay off without widespread student participation.
Then there is the concern over rushing the college experience. Some may need four years or more to really develop critical-thinking skills, become engaged in campus life, and make full meaning of their new knowledge.
Fast tracking works only for motivated, college-ready, AP-credit-bearing students who don’t want to pay ever-rising college tuition for four (or five or six) years of engagement in campus life. They could graduate, get a job and eat pizza with their work buddies. Surely there are enough students of this type to motivate colleges to design three-year degree programs.