With college tuition costs rising and more people struggling with money, many people are having to think carefully about whether to invest in a 4-year college education. If you are weighing your options and wondering if enrolling in a 4-year college or university is right for you, you may have a new option: completing college in three years, rather than 4.
While it’s common for students to complete their bachelors degree programs in four, five or even six years, some students are now fast-tracking their studies to complete college in three years, and a few colleges and universities are beginning to offer three-year programs, in response to student need.
Evaluating Your College Options
For students who are concerning about paying for college, attending a private, 4-year college can seem daunting. In recent years, students have increasingly turned to other options, including attending a state school, which is less expensive for in-state residents, starting their college education with an associates degree at a community college and then transferring their credits to a bachelors degree program at a 4-year college, and getting and online degree through an online school, which cuts down on time and transportation costs.
If an online school or community college isn’t right for you and you want to explore your options at public and private colleges and universities, you may want to consider completing your college degree in three years, rather than the traditional four years.
How Do 3-Year College Degree Programs Work?
To complete your college degree in three years, you will probably need to take multiple bachelors degree courses during the summer, as well as additional courses during your semesters, to make up for the final year of school you’re skipping.
Taking additional courses during the school year as well as during the summer saves you from paying for room and board during that fourth year of college. It will also allow you to start working sooner, so you can embark on your career and start earning a paycheck. Or, if you plan to go directly into a graduate school program, completing your bachelors degree program in less time lets you start your masters degree and specialize in your field earlier.
What Are the Drawbacks of a 3-Year College Degree?
Before you decide to pursue this new path, be sure you think about the sacrifices you’ll make if you cut your college degree program by a year. Taking more classes during your semesters and the summer leaves you less time to work and earn money during school, which could make it harder for you to pay back your college loans. You will also be graduating with fewer work contacts and less work experience under your belt.
You will also have other fees you may not have if you were to choose a 4-year degree. If you take more than the maximum number of credits in a term, some schools will charge you a fee. And while you’ll save on room and board during the school year, you will still need to pay for summer housing.
Critics also argue that completing your degree in less time can affect a student’s college experience: Grades could suffer, since the student will have less time to study, relax and recharge, and the student will have less time for extra-curricular activities, which contribute both to a student’s happiness and personal growth.
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