Monday, June 01, 2009


The cost of a college education at both public and private institutions has risen at least 35% over the past five years. Furthermore, according to this editorial in the Tacoma News Tribune, this year's college class of 2009 is graduating with more debt than any previous class while at the same time facing a tough job market.

This article, appearing on the front page of the May 23, 2009 edition of the Washington Post, discusses the option of earning an undergraduate degree in three years. Excerpt from "Colleges Consider 3-Year Degrees To Save Undergrads Time, Money":
In an era when college students commonly take longer than four years to get a bachelor's degree, some U.S. schools are looking anew at an old idea: slicing a year off their undergraduate programs to save families time and money.

Advocates of a three-year undergraduate degree say it would work well for ambitious students who know what they want to study. Such a program could provide the course requirements for a major and some general courses that have long been the hallmark of American education.

The four-year bachelor's degree has been the model in the United States since the first universities began operating before the American Revolution. Four-year degrees were designed in large part to provide a broad-based education that teaches young people to analyze and think critically, considered vital preparation to participate in the civic life of American democracy.

The three-year degree is the common model at the University of Cambridge and Oxford University in England, and some U.S. schools have begun experimenting with the idea. To cram four years of study into three, some will require summer work, others will shave course lengths and some might cut the number of credit hours required.

"It will not be easy to produce a low-cost, high-quality three-year curriculum for a college degree, but now is the time to try," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former education secretary and a past president of the University of Tennessee, told a group of educators this year. "Today's economic crisis and tight budgets are the best time to innovate and change."

But critics said they fear that an undergraduate's academic and social experience would be compromised by shortening it to three years. College would tilt more toward job training and away from the broad-based education many U.S. schools have offered.


As if three years isn't enough of a departure, Purdue University's College of Technology in Indiana just announced a two-year bachelor's degree starting this summer....
Read the entire article.

This article from MSN Money discusses the worth of college degrees for certain subject areas and provides information as to the cost of earning a degree. Brief excerpt:
...The College Board tells us that four years' worth of tuition, fees, books and supplies at a public university currently cost about $20,000, while the private version will set you back $80,000. Add in room, board, transportation and other costs, and the total tab spirals to about $50,000 for public schools and $110,000 for private....
Read the entire article.

Should American institutions of higher learning lower the credit-hours requirements for undergraduate degrees so that students can finish earlier?

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posted by Always On Watch @ 6/01/2009 09:00:00 PM