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ULV: A prestigious 5-year school?

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editorial cartoon by Christian A. Lopez

editorial cartoon by Christian A. Lopez

The faces of students at the University of La Verne never seems to change. Except for the expected slews of new, incoming students essential for the future growth of our University, the sea of faces here at ULV remains familiar for long periods of time.

So what? Perhaps familiarity with everyone is an advantage of going to a small university. But hidden behind this comfort lies a deeper problem; ULV students never seem to leave or to graduate.

The traditional period of time to graduate from a four-year university is supposed to be four years. Yet, ULV students are taking advantage of the fact that they can walk on the graduation stage and still remain on campus afterwards to finish off any remaining courses. Would you call these students real graduates?

The fact is that a growing number of students who attend ULV and many other universities nationwide are on the five-year plan.

When the number five is mentioned, it is not meant to be taken literally. Actually, students are prone to graduate from a four-year college in an average of five to seven years, according to recent studies.

A number of factors can explain this continuing trend. First of all, students are not always able to gather enough course units each semester or quarter to guarantee graduation within four years? This remains a problem, especially for bigger universities, where competition is fierce to get into classes. It is not unusual then, in this case, for a student to consider 12 units, the minimum required for full time status, as OK.

Having 12 units each quarter or semester will not cut it, however. The fact is that a minimum of 14 to 16 units should be considered each quarter or semester to guarantee graduation within the expected amount of time.

Sometimes it is not the colleges’ system of registration or admission that are at fault. More and more students admit to being lazy or scared to graduate on time. The pressure that was once there for prior generations to graduate “on time” is no longer as strong.

Even more evident is the fact that most students just don’t have enough time to take on a full course load. It is not unusual for students to take on the minimum units required as well as supporting a part-time, or even a full-time job.

The latter point is significant, considering the cost here and elsewhere. Most students cannot afford to pay the cost of going to a university. Financial aid, although helpful for many students, cannot cover everything, so students are often forced to take the course load they can afford for that year-and sometimes that isn’t enough to graduate on time.

Other factors to consider are problems that occur when the student decides to drop out for some time, or when the student changes majors.

Each major has its own area of concentration, so changing a major-which each student does up to seven times-will mean taking on new and more classes, often invalidating prior units taken.

This, as you may imagine, does not help in the graduation process at all.

Not getting credit for classes taken is an increasing problem, especially for transfer students.

Each university has its own graduation requirements, and if some classes do not fit, they are disregarded. Some students have had to retake units to fit in the graduation requirement for a certain university. This, too, can hinder a student from graduating within four years.

So with big universities to contend with, work to deal with, units to acquire and not enough money or time to get them all, it should be of no wonder that more and more students seem content with graduating between five and seven years. Who knows, perhaps graduating in just four years will become completely passé.

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