Graduate in four

Don't prolong your college years by poor planning

Graduate in four

Transferring college credits out of state?

Transferring from one school to another institution of higher education doesn’t automatically tack on more time. But it certainly can if you aren’t diligent about your planning and research, particularly if you are transferring college credits out of state. These days, it’s not a given to plan to graduate from college in four years. 

In fact, on average, 48 percent of students graduate from private colleges in the traditional timeline and a staggering 27 percent graduate in four years from U.S. public institutions, according to the federal government’s college navigator website ( 


The top schools for best graduation rates include University of Virginia and the United States Military Academy. There are also some colleges who perform well in rankings and produce top quality graduates, who aren’t anywhere near a four-year graduation rate. 


What does that mean? 

Although it’s important to compare how colleges stack up against the four-year graduation rate, be objective in your research.Tom Delahunt, vice president for admission and student financial planning, at Drake University (, says colleges can’t completely control graduation rates, but they do control some of the factors. 


“You have to ask yourself, ‘if I stay the path, can I graduate in four years?” Delahunt warns. On the other hand, if a college only offers a course once a year, that’s going to make accessibility a real concern. 


Make sure that the school doesn’t have any barriers to your goal, if you are transferring college credits out of state or in. “(Graduation rate) is also a financial consideration,” Delahunt says. The more time you spend at college, the more you will spend. If you don’t finish in four years, you’ll need to start researching how much the extra tuition and room and board will set you back and cut into the time you could be actually making money. So if cost is a variable in your college search, (and I’m sure it is!) make sure the school is going to offer opportunities to graduate on time. The rest is up to you. 


Here are some tips to keep you on track for a four-year graduation:

• Start early. Start thinking about transferring as early as possible and consider schools with an articulation agreement, which means they accept credits from your current school. 

• Four-year rate. Research the four-year graduation rates at schools you are interested in? What’s their graduation rate and compare it to other schools on your list. But don’t take the list at face value. Do a little digging to find out if your situation would be better off than the average.

• Make sure your credits count. Don’t waste time and money by taking courses that won’t transfer. Talk to the transfer coordinator at your target school, and make sure you’re taking the right classes. 

• Study all year. Summer break is great, but so is graduating on time! Take classes in the summer. It will be great to get courses completed and graduate on time.


Enid Arbelo Bryant is a freelance writer in Rochester, N.Y.




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