The Three-Year College Flop

The idea of getting American students through college in three years isn’t turning out to be very attractive. According to an article by Daniel de Vise in the Washington Post:

Reformers have hailed the three-year degree as the potential salvation of higher education: a rewrite of the academic calendar that lowers the price of college by compressing it into 36 months. Several institutions have launched three-year degrees in a flurry of activity triggered by the economic downturn that began in 2008. Political leaders in at least two states, Ohio and Rhode Island, have instructed public colleges to offer accelerated degrees.

But students have not responded, and most three-year degree programs have flopped — a reminder, college leaders say, that students still regard college as an experience to be savored.

Well that’s not the only reason the programs have flopped. The other reason a href=” http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/blog/the_quick_college_myth.php” target= “_blank “>such programs haven’t been successful is because they have somewhat limited potential to actually save students and their parents much money.

Compressing it “into 36 months” means that realistically students who are involved in such programs can’t ever take time off or work during the year or in the summers. That means that such programs are pretty much limited to the affluent. And if you’ve got the money why would you want to speed up college? What’s having money if you can’t use it to enjoy things?

Furthermore, the rapid-fire college would also prevent most students from being able to hold internships while studying. That would adversely impact their ability to get jobs once they graduate, making the program even less attractive.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer