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How can I ensure that I will graduate college in the span of 4 years?

Hello, my name is Hoseana. I will be a freshman at Sacramento State and plan on majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in African American Studies. As a freshman, I have several questions, one being ways in which I will be able to graduate in the span of 4 years. I do not want any delays, however, I know that nothing ever goes as smoothly as planned. I just want to be able to graduate in four years, so that I can get my masters in the next years as well. #college #law #criminal-justice #college-student


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John’s Answer

Hello Hoseana,


If Sacramento State offers summer sessions to meet your class requirements register for one class per session. If there are two sessions offered you will complete four classes over the course of two summers. This will allow you to reduce nearly a semester's worth of classes in your four year window. If something unforeseen comes up or classes aren't offered at a time that meets your schedule one semester where you are taking one less class you have some insurance built in.


This is one way to meet your timeline if completing the program in four years is important to you and you don't mind going to school through the summer and have the funds to do so.


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Kim’s Answer

Well, let's see. I think I'd try to get a hold of the class rotation schedule for your major, so you know which semester to expect which classes to be offered. Talk to the advisor and find out which classes sometimes "Don't make" so you can start working those in earlier on in your schooling. You also want some "balance" in your courses. Don't take a semester where all the classes require a lot of reading. Mix it up a little (this requires doing some research about the classes and the professors). And don't over-do it. Taking 18 hrs. can do more to set you back than get you further ahead. I like the summer school idea. I took very few semesters with 15 hrs, as I attended summer school for two summers. It's definitely possible!


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Phillip’s Answer

Hi Hoseana,


Focusing on your graduation timeline is a wonderful way to guide your college career. When you are looking at different ways to spend your time, you might consider "what goal am I seeking to accomplish by spending my time in this fashion?" Be very clear on what efforts will assist you in obtaining your degree and making yourself an attractive candidate for a master's degree. The easiest way to finish off a degree on your timeline is to make sure that every single course you take counts towards one or more of the graduation requirements for your major or Sac State generally. For example, if Sac State requires you to take a writing course and a literature course, see if you can take one class that fulfills both requirements at the same time. If you have a mild interest in a course that is not in your major, consider learning about the subject outside of a Sac State course. To scratch your interest-itch, you might obtain the syllabus from the professor and sit-in on lectures that interest you (for no course credit) and check out certain books from the library to read for pleasure. Regardless,make sure the time you spend is accomplishing some graduation goal -- if it doesn't count towards your major, make sure it counts towards making you a stronger masters candidate!


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Kathleen’s Answer

Hi Hoseana,

Congratulations on your acceptance to Sacramento State! That's so exciting.

I graduated with my B.A. two years ago. It took me four years. However, I want to be upfront and let you know that this is becoming increasingly less common. More and more students are taking longer than four years to graduate. And that's okay!

The NY Times reports that the rate of students who graduate in four years is roughly 36%. See link below.

I'm telling you this not to discourage you, but to help you understand that it's okay to adjust your timeline. There are many reasons why students don't graduate in four years, but the main one is changing majors, discovering new interests, or taking on other responsibilities like internships and part-time jobs that will be way more valuable on your post-grad career search.

My best advice is to take all of your gen-eds early. Do not jump into major specific courses until you've gotten the gen-eds out of the way. This way, if you decided to change your major your sophomore or junior year, the credits you've earned as an underclassman can still be used towards your degree.

Classes are important, but so are extracurriculars. Internships, fellowships, networking groups, professional organizations. These things take time. But they'll be valuable to you for years to come. I encourage you to consider investing your energy in opportunities outside of the classroom. Even if that means changing your timeline.


https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/education/most-college-students-dont-earn-degree-in-4-years-study-finds.html

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Alexander’s Answer

Hoseana,


In order to graduate in 4 years, you need to first stay on top of your classwork. As long as you manage your time well, complete assignments on time, study for exams, and seek help when you need it, you should be able to pass your classes. Depending on your school, some departments will give you a "Four Year Plan" which helps you choose your classes wisely and logically. If you feel as though you are struggling to maintain the 4 year goal, speak with your adviser and you may need to switch classes. I have seen people switch their major 3 times and still graduate in 4 years (although this is not the norm). Lastly, if you feel as though you are falling behind, you can take summer or winter classes (either at your school or your community college). Best of luck!


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