FAMU students struggle to finish in four years

Students walking to receive their diploma.
Photo Courtesy of FAMU FORWARD.

With only six weeks until fall graduation, students must plan accordingly and think of the next vital stages in their lives. Some will have to worry about their financial needs and employment to stay afloat, causing them to reevaluate their goals and aspirations.

Having more concerns than reassurances may push their projected graduation date back. Taking these factors into consideration, the real question becomes: Is finishing in four years realistic for many students at FAMU, considering that four out of five do not finish in four years?

Senior chemistry major Yameke Fletcher believes it’s not practical to graduate within a four-year time span, “I don’t think it is impossible for college students to graduate in four years. However, most students do not. Besides passing classes, there are so many other factors that hold students back from graduating in four years that can be stressful and overwhelming.”

Angela Blount, a College of Science and Technology academic advisor, thinks that students should be able to graduate within four years but must put in the effort and know exactly what major they want to study. “Graduating college is realistic provided students start and finish the required courses per their curriculum.  Students should engage in research and shadowing experiences prior to starting college and during such to ensure a smooth transition into a major that they enjoy and will subsequently complete,” she said.  “Changing majors multiple times can set students back. Students can also graduate within four years if they choose to take summer courses.”

According to a survey by HSBC Bank, 85 percent of students are working in paid employment while studying.

Balancing work and school can be stressful, but Fletcher says creating a plan to map out what’s next is a critical component to thriving while multitasking. “Coming with a schedule, so they can have time to complete their school work and get the proper rest they need,” she said.

Blount says the reason there is an emphasis put on graduating in four years is because the institution in which students are attending want that student to be the upmost successful prior to graduating. “When students graduate in four years it can lessen the financial burden on students and their parents.  Extending time in college can lead to additional living and personal expenses as well as more money spent on tuition and fees,” she said. “If an individual is on scholarship that only covers four years, any cost accrued beyond what's covered is the responsibility of the student.

“Additionally, extending the plan beyond four years causes the student to miss the opportunity to earn income as a college graduate or progress to an advanced degree.  From a university standpoint, four-year graduation rates can increase funding opportunities that can be used for resources and technology, more faculty and staff, and scholarships for students.”

According to FAMU’s strategic plan for graduation rates, the actual four-year graduation rate for 2017-2018 was 21.8 percent, which surpassed the goal of 20 percent.