Manalapan, New Jersey (PressExposure) September 22, 2007 -- Students entering Western Michigan University this fall can take advantage of a new program designed to incent and assist them in completing college in four years. Called "The Western Edge," this program offers $500 toward textbooks and other expenses for students who carry a full credit load and earn a 3.0 GPA their first year on campus. WMU is also freezing room and board rates for four years for program participants.
According to WMU President, John M. Dunn, the university's program is an attempt to help students and families contain college costs by completing their degree "on time". According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), only 40 percent of students graduate from college in four years. Most families plan financing for four years, and the fifth year can boost costs by 25 percent.
"This is a rude awakening for some parents," says Rhoda Geller, Educational Advocate and Coach for College Career Coach in Manalapan, New Jersey. "By the time parents realize their college student will be entering year five our even six, it's too late to do anything, yet many of the causes for extended time-to-degree are preventable."
According to Geller, factors leading to extra years can include: switching majors too often; dropping, failing or taking the wrong courses; having to take remedial classes that are non-credit courses. The list goes on and on. She acknowledges that some reasons are more controllable than others and that students need to be proactive through all college years to avoid the need to attend an additional year or two.
Geller also advises parents and students to begin researching "possible" majors well before college and continue until they must declare a major at the end of the sophomore year. She coaches students to focus on "core classes" early and not to load up on too many "major-related" classes should they change majors. Geller adds that parents and students should develop a full four-year plan toward graduation. She says this includes knowing graduation requirements and being aware of any policy changes that could change those requirements.
Concludes Geller, "The cost of an additional year of college goes well beyond the $25,000 in tuition and room and board. Add to this the loss of a year's income and a year's work experience. As college expenses continue to rise, the trend of earning a four-year degree in five or six years is becoming costly to many families."
CollegeCareerCoach currently serves clients throughout the United States.