As incoming freshmen, most students were made to believe they could complete college in four years, but here at California State Universities, taking a steady 12 units each semester is considered a “full load.” This could not be further from the truth.
Using simple math, one can calculate that taking the minimum 12 units a semester over four years of schooling will only add up to 96 total units. According to Sacramento State’s graduation requirements, the minimum about of units needed to graduate is 120.
At some point, students will take more or less than 12 units per semester depending on work schedules, class availability or other factors.
So if you plan on working full time, and can only take 12 units a semester, forget about the four-year dream of graduating; it’s not going to happen.
This issue has recently become more prominent due to the threat of having to pay hefty fees for completing five years of undergraduate work without receiving a diploma.
This graduation incentive fee is supposedly meant to encourage students to finish their degrees in a timely manner so they can make room for incoming students.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 34.8 percent of CSU students graduate in four years versus the 65.1 percent who graduate in six years. According to the same data, Sacramento State’s four-year graduation rate is only 10.6 percent.
So while the CSU system continues to cattle-prod us through college, we are left to figure out how to make that four-year plan a reality.
Working is not the only obstacle for graduating on time. There’s several reasons students often take five or more years to get a degree.
Two main factors contributing to graduation delay are registering for classes and changing majors.
Anyone who has tried to enroll for classes knows the perils of this tedious task. Sitting in front of a computer two hours before our appointment time, praying we don’t see that blue box indicating the class we need is closed for enrollment.
As for changing majors, not everyone enters the collegiate world knowing exactly what they want to study or be when we grow up. Some students will try two or three majors before settling in and finding “the one.” This flip-flopping of career choices is normal, but time consuming.
Other factors can include parents paying for college, playing hooky, transferring units, obtaining financial aid and more.
The CSU system needs to make it more obvious to students that although 12 units a semester is considered a full class load for financial aid purposes, it is not going to get us to graduation day in four years.