There’s More than One Way to Complete Your Degree

Barry Lenson

There’s More than One Way to Complete Your Degree

Ways to Complete Your Degree

This is a true story. When I was raking leaves two days ago, I struck up a conversation with a neighbor of mine who was walking her dog.

“What’s your daughter up to?” I asked.

“She’s working during the day as a store manager, and as a waitress at night,” my neighbor answered. “She was supposed to graduate from college two years ago, but it’s taken her two extra years because the courses she needed weren’t available when she needed them.”

Two extra years? Two years! I asked her how that could possibly have happened, and she explained that there were several reasons. Her daughter’s university had not replaced a number of professors after they retired. To save money, it had also cut back on the workload of visiting adjunct faculty members, several of whom taught higher-level courses. And who suffered from those cost-cutting decisions? Who had to put their graduation dates and career plans on hold? The students, of course.

But the pressing question is, how can you prevent that kind of problem from broadsiding your educational plans and delaying your graduation? Here are some strategies . . .

  • Before you declare your major, speak with your advisor and/or the head of the department to set up a tentative schedule for when you will take your required courses. (Granted, the courses could be cancelled at a later date anyway.) But if you determine that the school will not be able to provide the courses you need to complete your major, make plans about how you can complete those courses (maybe at another college or with online courses). Or maybe you should pick another major. That sounds harsh, but swapping majors early could prevent problems later on.
  • Make use of summer months to take the courses you need, after making sure your college will accept the transfer credits. You can’t ask your college to refund you the cost of these courses after you take them (that’s just not in the college rulebook for some reason), but you might be able to graduate a semester early and save that money.
  • Be ready to raise a stink if problems occur. If your college is not offering courses that you need to graduate, talk to reporters at local newspapers or television stations about your problem.  Write an article about your problem in the campus newspaper and post your story on your college’s Facebook page. Make a sign that says, “UNABLE TO GRADUATE BECAUSE REQUIRED CLASSES CANCELLED” and stand on campus holding it. As soon as the next admissions tour passes by and sees you standing there, somebody from the administration will talk to you about your problem. If those tactics sound too extreme and unfair, stop and think. After all, how fairly is your college treating you?

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