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The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Take More Courses to Graduate Quicker

Debt has become a $1.3 trillion problem for college students. Taking more courses each semester could be part of the solution.

If students would just take on 15 course-credit hours instead of the traditional 12, the savings are estimated at nearly $13,000 for someone trying to earn a four-year degree, according to a report by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University. The study showed that Tennessee students who signed up for 15 course credits in their first semester paid 10%-20% less per degree in tuition and fees.

Completion rates for the 15-credit students rose as well, according to an article in The Atlantic. Those community college students were 6.4% more likely to earn a degree, while the same held true for 11% of four-year students.

The report noted that students who started their college careers by taking 15 credits had the same pass/fail rates as those with 12-credit terms. The research did find that students with lower high-school grade-point averages didn’t fare as well with the extra load.

The Columbia research reinforces the results of a 2012 study that showed part-time community college students were less likely to complete a degree than their full-time counterparts. It also confirmed the findings of the “15 to Finish” campaign, a program developed at the University of Hawai’i.

“Research shows that students with a full-time course load, meaning 15 credits per semester, who consistently enroll full-time are most likely to graduate,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said in an education committee hearing last year. “However, a 2013 survey of institutions showed the majority of so-called full-time college students are not taking the credits needed to finish in four years for a bachelor’s or two years for an associate degree.”

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