Graduation Rates and You
After your high school graduation, you may see yourself being one of the few college students who graduate within four years. I don’t think anyone consciously pictures themselves changing majors or taking six years to graduate.
Unfortunately, today’s average graduation rate for a four-year degree is nearly 4.5 years. In fact, it’s so common students take longer than four years that colleges report their six-year graduation rates instead of four years.
There are many reasons for this but a lot of it boils down to you finding the right major and college for you. According to a study by Jeffrey Sklar related to the impact of changing majors on the time it takes to graduate, the percentage of students changing majors at least once is 46% but may be as high as 75% at individual institutions. The impact on graduation time will be determined by the type of switch and when you make the switch.
For example, students who switch between colleges – say from a Marketing major to an Engineering major will likely face a delayed graduation. Switching majors within the same college or department will have a lesser impact on the time it takes to graduate. If this change is made in your freshman or sophomore year of school the impact can be minimal.
What can you do?
Set some expectations for yourself and ask some hard questions about your future. How strongly do you feel about your initial major? Do you genuinely see yourself sticking to this major or do you feel you want to explore options a bit more before deciding?
Even if you have a major decided and think it’s your one and only major you see yourself going through, be open and prepared to change. Try to find a college that allows you to do some exploration of majors.
One thing to look for in a college is the idea of meta-majors. Some schools such as Georgia State University offer meta-majors in several general areas of learning. The idea is that you don’t pick a single major at the start of your college career – you pick a general area of study and after you’ve explored a bit you can narrow it down to a specific major.
Say you want to get into some kind of technical degree but you aren’t sure what exactly you want to major in. Maybe you want to learn about computer science but mechanical engineering may also be of interest to you. A school offering meta-majors will let you take courses that would apply to both majors so when the time comes to pick your desired major you haven’t taken any “wasted” courses.
The Right Campus
Besides finding your major or area of study, the place you get your degree from also needs to appeal to you. If you are someone who is introverted and prefers more personable interaction with peers, attending a school with a student population of 50,000 may not be a good fit. Be sure to evaluate criteria important to you such as distance from home, the campus setting, class sizes, availability of clubs and college diversity.
You can fill out your student profile at College Factual to help you find some colleges that meet your most important criteria as well as possible majors that would apply to you.
With these things in mind hopefully, you can graduate within a reasonable amount of time!