Graduating in four years is not a realistic reflection of our demographics

At Florida’s universities, only about 44 percent graduate within four years, according to the Governor’s Office, and nearly three out of four students require up to six years to finish college.

In response, FIU has come up with the “Graduate in 4, save more” plan, but because FIU is primarily a commuter school and many students work full-time, our numbers don’t give the impression that we are churning out as many graduates as other schools. And our graduation rate is unfortunately not a reflection of our demographics.

In order to graduate in four years, most students need to take 12 to 15 credits per semester, which requires around three hours of studying per week for each credit. Combined with a full-time work schedule of at least 40 hours per week, this totals to 80 hours of school and work every week.

This is a mentally draining schedule to keep up for even three months, much less four years.  

On top of this, students are expected to hold leadership positions, attend extracurricular events and be involved in extracurricular activities during their time in school, barely leaving any room for a healthy amount of food or sleep, not to mention making time for themselves to relax and rejuvenate.

Putting students through this kind of rigorous schedule for years is emotionally exhausting. All too often, it leads to burning out the students who once walked the halls initially so inspired and excited to learn.

Higher education in the United States is exceptionally expensive, even at an affordable university like FIU. Some students have no alternative but to work full-time, and as a result, they have to enroll in minimal classes until they earn their degree. For the most part, this means that earning a bachelor’s takes longer than four years.  

Paying for college isn’t what it was 50 years ago when a summer job would cover costs of books, housing, food, tuition and fees.  Now, even a part-time job often requires the aid of loans and living far below the level of comfort.

FIU and Gov. Rick Scott might be bent on ushering students in and out as quickly as possible, but quite frankly, we’re humans we all need to eat, sleep and relax at some point. As Panthers, we can’t let a school or state’s numbers on a website become priority before basic needs, and neither should FIU.

It’s a ridiculous expectation from both the state and the University that students need to place so much time and effort into our top-dollar studies and extracurriculars, when so many of us are working students with a heavy schedule.  

More consideration should be given to schools who have student bodies like ours before demographics are concerned.  If we provide for our students and help them through university, rather than trying to get as many kids in and out, we might find that the places our graduates go in life stretch even farther.


Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash.

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