College is by no means a cheap endeavor and the faster students graduate, the less debt they will accumulate.
In order to keep students on a one-way track to graduating in four years, Murray State has recently taken part in the 15 to finish initiative.
The program is through the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and works to promote obtaining a college degree in four years.
Barbara Cobb, coordinator of academic advising, said graduating in four years is beneficial for all students, especially in an economic sense.
“It is important goal for all students, considering education costs and the state of the economy,” Cobb said.
Like the name suggests, 15 to finish encourages students to take 15 credit hours a semester to be able to graduate in four years.
Taking 15 credit hours for eight semesters gives students the 120 hours they need to graduate.
President Tim Miller said he realizes being a full-time student and taking 15 credit hours is not an obtainable goal for every student.
“All students are different,” Miller said. “Some have to work to support themselves financially and simply cannot go to school full time as well.”
Miller also said some students do not always know what they want to major in right away, which can set them back.
He said in a financial sense, it is better for students to work to graduate as fast as they can so they will not have so much debt later on.
“Being full time should be a target for students who are able to do so,” Miller said.
To be considered full time at Murray State, students must take at least 12 credit hours per semester.
Some students need more than 15 credits per semester to graduate, but the 15 to finish is a starting point in terms of thinking about the best way to complete a degree in the least amount of time, Cobb said.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 59 percent of first time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a four-year degree-granting institution, and eventually obtained it.
Cobb said it is important for students to have an open line of communication with their advisers to see if they are on the right path.
Retaking courses can also put students behind to graduate on time and can end up costing students more money in the long run.
Cobb said when students chose to retake courses it can sometimes put them further behind.
“Retaking a course will postpone graduation, for most students,” she said. “Sometimes retaking a course is necessary to raise (a student’s) GPA or to be accepted into a competitive program, but it is better to put the hard work in now and make good grades, as opposed to stretching out (a student’s) college career by one or more semesters.”
Miller said although all students are different and on unique paths to graduate, it makes sense to graduate as soon as they can.
Said Miller: “Do it as quickly as you can to obtain the least amount of debt.”
Story by Rebecca Walter, Staff writer