Can Baruch really be a 4-year school?

It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, right? You would think so, but unfortunately for millennials, this is not the case. This problem applies to the undergraduate students who attend Baruch College. It’s easy to point the finger at the institution, but is Baruch to blame? Only to a certain extent.

The majority of college students attending public universities take around six years to complete a bachelor’s degree today according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

This means that the “four-year degree” is not just a fairy tale sold at Baruch, but across the country as well. How did this once American reality become a fantasy?

There are two major culprits responsible for this, the first being costs. Most students today cannot afford to pay for their college education and, as a result, are forced to take out student loans or fight for financial aid. Even though Baruch’s tuition is cheaper than the national average, most students cannot afford the current $6,730 tuition and have to delay their education in order to fund it. For a full-time student , it is torture to take classes.

Compare that to 1978 when, according to the NCES, the average tuition for a four-year public institution was $688 for in-state residents. This meant that students could work a decent full-time job and be able to afford their tuition for the entire year. That is simply not the case today, a fact that Baruch cannot change no matter how badly it may want to.

According to “Four-Year Myth,” a report from Complete College America, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis, “The reality is that our system of higher education costs too much, takes too long and graduates too few.”

Advising, or lack thereof, is the second key culprit responsible for the fact that most Baruch students are not graduating in four years. It is a struggle to get an appointment with an adviser. When the opportunity finally arrives, it usually turns into a rushed session that often feels disconnected and unproductive. Eighty percent of students change their majors before graduating according to the NCES and another 37 percent transfer. However, this shouldn’t delay students from graduating as much as it currently does.

A lot of credits get “lost” in this process and are most likely the reason that, despite a typical bachelor's requiring 120 credits, graduates obtain their degrees with an average of 134 credits, according to the Complete College America report. This is where advisers, including Baruch’s, are missing the mark. There is no reason students should be graduating with so many unnecessary credits, considering the current costs of college.

When looking at the statistics, it appears that Baruch cannot become a four-year college, but that doesn’t mean that Baruch cannot work toward becoming one via changes within the curriculum.

A change that could be implemented immediately to drastically decrease the time it takes for a Baruch student to graduate is to require each student to meet with an adviser before registering for the following semester. It is baffling that this is not already the case, as it is a rather simple solution when one considers the fact that Baruch already employs advisers for this very reason. Now they just have to be put to work.

-Pat Sikora

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