The 4-year college is becoming the 6-year college

Updated: Mar 24

Isabella Santoro

Photography Editor

Image via Unsplash

Many students feel the weight and pressure of having to take many classes to earn a degree. What should be a four year college experience is easily turning into a six year experience based on the overwhelming amount of classes and requirements. 60% of students take six years to graduate an undergraduate program and only 1/3 of students graduate in four years.

One issue I’ve seen is how many general education courses are required to graduate. It makes perfect sense that one should have to take math, english and communications as those are skills needed outside of school. History, social sciences and other sciences are not necessarily important unless they pertain to a student’s major. At RIC students are required to take one social science, one history and two different sciences that require labs. These classes then require different days for labs, so it takes up more time out of a schedule. To complete these classes, it would take at least a full year or more.

This is an example of the RIC-runaround that keeps a student here longer than needed. The current tuition - per semester - set for 2022-2023 is at $5,483 for in-state residents and $13,249.50 for out-of-state residents. This does not include additional registration fees and is only per semester, not the entire academic year. It can be challenging for those to pay their tuition already and may cost them years more to pay off. Looking at the financial side of this issue, most students take 20 years to pay off student loans and this is undergraduate. Most professional degrees take 45 years to pay off. Imagine having to pay student debt for 20 or 45 years and then having to pay for an additional few just because it took longer to graduate based on unnecessary requirements. This doesn’t include the interest that’s added over time. Most people can barely afford to pay these bills on top of paying for other bills and services as life goes on.

The amount of courses that colleges require for majors seems to be unnecessary, especially for undergraduate programs. RIC alone requires 120 credit hours for most degree programs. This would amount to 30 credit hours a school year, with most courses being three or four credits each. This would seem reasonable, as most students take 16 credits a semester, and if they took four courses required for their major, they’d likely be able to graduate on time. But with the 10 different general education classes a student is required to take, this adds up 40 hours of course material previously learned in high school. This may require students to take winter or summer classes, which creates a redundancy stealing us of extra money and time.

We must think that most students work as well as attending classes. On average 63% of students worked and were enrolled in college full time. 88% of these students worked more than 20 hours a week. This leaves little time to do school work, and to stay on top of grades and requirements in order to graduate. It’s almost impossible to not work at least part time while attending college, especially if you live off campus and commute everyday.

As well, depression and anxiety are huge factors that come with having to pay off student loans. According to a study, 53 % of students have experienced depression due to their student loans and 9 out of 10 students experience anxiety due to their debt burdens. A scary statistic shows that 1 in 15 students consider suicide due to having to pay off student loans. This doesn’t include the stress, anxiety and depression that comes with grades and having to do class work.

Colleges need to lower credit hours to help ease the stress and financial burdens of having to spend extra time in a college program. Colleges should only require students to take English, math, and communication classes. Most high schools require at least three years of both history and science and at least two years of a language. In some courses, I had already been taught the material I was presented. Not only was it a waste of time for me, but it is even more so for my professors. Why teach students what they already know?

If you are feeling suicidal due to any stress about school, call the Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255 or for emergencies call 911.



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