Juggling Work, School Can Lead to Late Graduation

Photo Courtesy / East Stroudsburg University Students graduating from ESU decorate their caps before accepting their diplomas after years of hard work and dedication.

Colin O’Leary 

Staff Writer 

Graduating from college is no easy task.

Graduating on time can be even harder.

College students are expected to graduate in four years, but not all college students are able to do this.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for some to take longer than four years to graduate.

Students caught in this situation may have their own set of reasons for taking longer to graduate, and most of these reasons can be attributed to a number of different factors.

According to Meredith Kolodner of the New York Times, one of the reasons it may take longer for a student to graduate is due to working more hours during the semester.

She writes that “about 40 percent of undergraduates work 30 hours a week or more, though a new study finds that more than 25 hours can get in the way of passing classes.”

Instead of studying and aiming for passing grades, students are sometimes forced to work more to compensate for the expenses of college.

A tiring work schedule can affect students’ ability to perform well in their classes.

This might lead to failing the class and having to take it again the next semester.

Classes aren’t cheap, so the cost increases and graduation gets pushed back even more.

Another factor cited in Kolodner’s article for delayed graduation is taking less than 15 credits per semester.

Some undergraduates only take 12 credits a semester. While it is a full course load, the math doesn’t add up for the 120 credit hours needed to graduate for most programs in four years.

Usually, students need to take 15 credits or more a semester to graduate on time.

Of course, these aren’t the only factors contributing to staying in college longer than four years.

A change of major or transferring to different schools might be to blame, both of which affect the time it takes to graduate.

Changing majors obviously adds more time in college, and for transferring, sometimes the credits get messed up.

All told, there are a number of reasons why a student may not graduate on time.

I believe the focus here should be on the first two points in Kolodner’s article, which is a student’s work schedule and the number of credit hours.

Working in college sometimes can’t be avoided.

We need money to pay for the expensive costs of college.

It’d be wrong to say a student should just work less to graduate on time because that’s not always possible.

Given the studies, it’s best for undergraduates to work less than 25 hours a week, but a lot of students work more than that.

Some don’t want to take on more debt, so they work more hours.

I believe this issue is tied to the rising costs of college and the student debt problem, but that’s a whole separate issue, and it’s not entirely in the student’s control.

Taking 15 credit hours per semester can be controlled more than the previous issue. There definitely needs to be a plan before taking college classes.

Students need to take the time to plot out their courses a semester by semester to graduate on time.

I didn’t do this, and I regret it. It would’ve been easier if I had taken the time to plan.

Some of these factors are in the student’s control, and others are not, but people shouldn’t look down on others for taking longer to graduate.

Maybe working more is necessary for students to be able to pay for the semester.

Maybe certain students have to cut back on classes for academic or mental health reasons.

Graduating late or staying in college longer than four years happens, but it’s important to be aware of the effects and what can be done to stay the course.

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