Four-year-degrees take more time for students

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When senior Emilie Lacy transferred to Pacific University from a community college in Tucson, Ariz. during junior year, she thought she would be graduating on time. She even took 18 credits every semester and took winter term classes, but an abrupt change in career plans caused her to take an extra semester of school and she will be graduating in December 2015.

“After I applied [to the physical therapy program] I realized that is not what I wanted to do,” Lacy said. “I wanted an extra semester to take some other classes and broaden my horizon.”

And now she is looking at teaching programs.

It can cost people “both time and money,” Director of Academic Advising Gretchen Potter said.

According to the U.S. News and World Report website, out of 79 percent of people who stay at Pacific University, 50 percent graduate in four years.

“For freshmen, taking at least 14 credits per semester and learning all the degree requirements so they won’t be surprised later is important,” Potter said, who advises students to pay attention to requirements, allowing flexibility with electives and to prevent taking summer courses. But for junior Garrett Brown, graduating on time has not been an issue, and his experience with his advisor has played a major role in helping the process.

“My advisor let me know the cliché of ‘allow yourself time to experiment in college’ is almost impossible,” Brown said, acknowledging that figuring out focal studies early on helped, too. “I would love to try every class that sounds interesting, but unfortunately Pacific is expensive and I want to graduate on time and on budget.”

Likewise, sophomore Colleen Murphy agreed that her experience with her advisor helped her a lot too.

“The first time we met, we laid out a four-year tentative plan. He told me what classes I could take, what classes complimented each other, and how to successfully come out with a degree in four years,” Murphy said. “I spent a lot of time online reading which classes were required and how I could work focal studies into them to make life a little easier.”

Murphy added the expenses are a major downfall when it comes to not being able to graduate on time.

“We’re paying quite a bit for our education at Pacific,” Murphy said. “It is absolutely worth every penny, but stretching it out when it’s not absolutely necessary could get quite expensive, quite fast.”


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