Average college graduation timelines extended

Dept. of Education cites several factors
College Graduation
Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 07:54:36-04

CLEVELAND — During the last 20 months of pandemic learning, education experts learned a lot about what works and what doesn't in schools and higher education. It also shined a light on how traditional four-year bachelor's degree programs may be a thing of the past.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education said two-thirds of college students in the country will take more than six years to complete an undergraduate degree.

Students at Cleveland State University are more than halfway through the fall semester. With students taking classes in person, the campus student center was full.

That's where senior David Kenney and Zachary Haderski passed time between classes.

Both are seniors in accounting and both will graduate less than five years after starting college. Haderski is graduating in December; his college stay was only three and a half years.

"We actually took a class over the summer," Haderski said. They waited to take the class because it was the only time to fit it into their schedule.

"If I knew how different college would be when COVID hit with all restrictions, I don't know if I would go to school," Kenney said.

Kenney and Haderski are exceptions in higher education.

Issues created by the pandemic played a role in the delayed completion timeline. Graduation rates stagnated as students left campuses for careers.

As an issue so far-reaching the Biden administration pumped $62 billion into higher education. Mostly aimed at schools with a high rate of low-income students.

Down the street from Cleveland State, is Cuyahoga Community College.

"A majority of our students are part-time," said Karen Miller is the Provost and Executive Vice President at the school.

She said most of the students go on to get a traditional bachelor's degree but cost and access mean the schooling can take longer.

"I think it's more acceptable now than it has ever been," Miller said. 

The U.S. Department of Education also said students taking a small number of credit hours, changing majors and inadequate advising also play a role in the drawn-out process.