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UWRF students continue struggle to graduate in four years

April 25, 2014

Graduating from college in four years has become challenging for many students in recent years and students at UW-River Falls are no exception.

Many factors are involved when it comes to graduating in four or more years, sometimes less. Saving up money becomes an issue for some students, many taking semesters off to make more money to pay for school. Students have to spread out their studies in order to make it, or go deep into debt.

“I think that it takes longer for students to graduate in four years because of the prices. Most students do school and work, which some students take less credits or classes because they need to work to make money for tuition,” Jennifer Orf, a student at UWRF, said.

According to the Department of Education, fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college each year graduate within four years, while almost 60 percent of students graduate in six years.

Orf, a broad field social studies major, changed her major three times before deciding what she wanted to study.

“Since I changed my major so many times I’m not going to graduate in four years. I’m estimating two more years,” Orf said.

Internships play a role as well. For students with internships, they are usually taking them without earning money; instead they are gaining job skills. However, with the increase in the costs of living and tuition, students have to get their money from somewhere. Internships take up time that a student could use to work and earn money.

“I’m not in any internships but I do student teach for my major. I think it takes longer because the course loads are harder,” said Courtney Wilson, an elementary education major.

“No, I will not graduate in four years. It will take me an extra year and a half. It is difficult,” Wilson said.

The Growth Agenda Accountability Report is an informational memorandum that tracks the retention and graduation rates in the UW-System. Students enrolled full time in UWRF as freshmen in 2006 had a four-year graduation rate of 21.8 percent and a 54.2 percent graduation rate in six years.

Changing majors and sometimes minors can set students back by a semester or two. Students who change their major late sophomore and junior year are less likely to graduate in four years because of the number of credits required to apply for graduation. Some students have double or triple majors which add to the course load, setting them back even further.

“I think it’s difficult to graduate in four years because students change their mind so much on their major and it puts them behind. Students would graduate on time if they did not switch their majors, like I did,” Orf said.

Class availability can offset a student’s graduation year. Many classes are only offered in certain semesters, making it difficult for students to work classes into their schedules while avoiding overlaps and classes offered at the same time.

Transfer students are faced with credits not transferring from different schools and having some classes not counting at all.

College Complete is a microsite produced by the Chronicle of Higher Education to show graduation rates and how they very in the U.S. by state. Minnesota, overall, has a 30.6 percent four year graduation rate and a 56.4 percent six year graduation rate. Wisconsin has a 27.4 percent four year graduation rate and a 60.4 percent six year graduation rate, according to College Complete.