Editorial: 3 year degree welcome, but don't push it


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Last week, University of Iowa President Sally Mason unveiled an accelerated degree program that would be available to incoming students next fall. The program, called “Iowa Degree in Three,” would allow some students to complete a four-year degree in three years through a more rigorous workload that would extend into summer sessions.

The program would be offered to students in one of six majors: English, history, theater, marketing, communication studies, and international studies. The coursework and requirements for the major would not change, but commitment to the program enables more accommodation on the university’s part in ensuring graduation criteria are met in three years. 

Taking this abridged route offers a variety of benefits, especially for students with limited financial means or time to complete a degree. Completing the degree in three years would cut down on expenses, especially for students paying out-of-state tuition on top of room and board.

However, when weighing the pros and cons while deciding one’s course of study, all factors and motivations should be taken into account. Cost and time should not be the sole considerations when making a decision, because the holistic college experience offers a certain number of intangible merits. There is more to the college experience than the consumption and regurgitating of information in a timely, cost-effective fashion.

College is meant to prepare a student to become a functional member of society with a set of skills directly applicable to a desired professional field. Rushing this process may result in getting the desired piece of paper stating one has acquired these skills but may not be advantageous in the long run. There’s a certain level of life experience expected from college graduates, and this experience cannot be crammed the night before like a Principles of Chemistry II chapter.

While four years of schooling may not be necessary for every individual’s course of study, expediting the process could result in important aspects of the education process being lost.

Learning does not only occur in the classroom. Immersion in every facet of the college environment offers benefits that cannot be catalyzed by an increase in semester hours. This program takes into account the scholastic requirements for a major, but it is difficult to compensate for internships, research, and other forms of experiential learning that are just as important when receiving a well-rounded education.

Iowa Degree in Three will certainly prove to be very beneficial program for a select group of students willing to commit to the rigorous program, but it should not be marketed as a mainstream course of study. The decision to take on this program should not be made lightly, given the high stakes and level of commitment necessary to succeed.

For the right student, the program holds the potential to drastically improve the college experience, but it is important to keep in mind that the program must fit both ways. The program has to work for the student, and the student must work for the program.

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