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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Graduating on time is hard

Photo credit: Briana Mcdaniel

In 2013, only 59 percent of Chico State students graduated within six years. The four-year graduation rate was likely even lower.

Schools don’t do enough to help students graduate in four years. In fact, the university directly inhibits students from graduating on time in some cases.

Chico State currently uses major academic plans to help students graduate within four years. The plans help breakdown course loads semester by semester and can be useful to some students. A big flaw for the plans to work is students need to know what to major in the moment they start their first year.

This isn’t an issue for some students, but for the 20 to 50 percent of students who are undeclared and the 75 percent of students who change majors, it is a serious problem.

What causes students the most trouble is general education classes. What the university fails to tell most incoming undecided freshman is that the general education courses they take make a huge difference in their academic timeline.

Many majors require students to take certain lower division classes. Business students need to take Economics 102 and 103 for their area D1 and D2 requirements. The university makes it sound like students can take any combination of courses, but if students did they would be set back once they picked a major.

Class availability contributes to whether or not a student will graduate on time. Many students have trouble registering and getting into classes they need. The university should require classes to have plenty of room. It’s better to have two partially full classes than one full class with 20 people on the waitlist.

Many general education classes could be offered online to a large audience. Basic low-level classes could be taught just as effectively online allowing students a higher chance at getting in. Online classes also typically take up less time, so students could potentially take more units per semester

Forcing an engineering student to attend an art history class every week seems counterproductive and wasteful of the student’s time and money.

Of course, required courses and class availability aren’t the only things contributing to not graduating on time. Many students fail classes, drop out or take semesters off.

If a student fails classes, the university isn’t to blame if they don’t graduate on time. However, if a student does everything right but still can’t graduate in four years because they weren’t able to get into the classes they needed, the university is directly responsible.

The major academic plans that Chico State has laid out are a good start to graduate on time. However, these plans only address one portion of a large of the issues.

It needs to be easier to get into classes and change majors. Students should not be required to fill their schedules with unnecessary general education courses. If the university really wants students to graduate in four years, they need to take further action.

Carson Predovich can be reached at [email protected] or @cpredo120 on Twitter.

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