Me and my special someone went out to dinner last nite with some friends. (Incidentally, the place we went is the best mexican food we’ve had here, on a par with places in Chicago (not quite as cheap though). Angelica had called me a while back, been like “so I’m by this resale store down at Nicollet and 35th and there’s a mexican place here that looks good, let’s go out to eat” and I was all “that’s pretty far to go … but okay, I guess.” Just like with the International Espionage! show, she was right and I was wrong. Great eats. Anyhow, dinner last nite…)

Dinner was good, so was the conversation (naturally, I mean, I was there). Walking back together en route to a bar, we got on the topic of degree completion times. A friend told me once that the place I’m at now average like 6 or 7 years for undergrads to get their degrees. One of the friends we were out with said that when she was doing her undergrad (she finished a year or two ago) at a U in California some adviser person told her it was unrealistic to finish in 4 years. She was like “I’m nearly 30, I’m getting married, my husband’s not going to be living in CA anymore, I need to done and get out” and so pushed her way into a class she needed in order to graduate but wasn’t going to be able to take that year. All of this strikes me as ridiculous, given that students are paying big money for tuition, getting loans that can’t even be bankruptcied out of. I looked and this report published in 2003 states that people completing undergrad degrees in 1999-2000 took nearly six years on average to complete. If people are just taking their time then more power to them. But if people are stuck, that’s crap. The report also indicates that the more institutions a student attends the longer it takes to finish, like folk who do a 2yr degree then move a 4yr place to finish up the degree, said finishing often takes more than just the 2yr difference. Of course, these are generally people with less money. This indicates that in the early 90s degree completion time went up, as did student loan amounts. Again, if folk are using this do what they want, awesome. If not, not. Personally, I think institutions should make commitments to students being able to finish in 4 yrs if they like, full stop. Insofar as the degree is a piece of paper for job markets’ sake, keeping students in to pay more tuition is out of order and does no one any favors, except university administrators perhaps. I could see an argument about giving students substantive quality education, not shortchanging them, etc etc, but that seems to me to be a crap reason (that is, a meritocratic ideology) for barriers to faster completion schedules (I should say, “barriers to the option of faster completion schedules”). Let students who want to stay stay, and those who want to finish faster finish faster.

I wish I was better with numbers and all that, I’d love to have info on over all durations of degree completion across the U.S. etc. (See this as well.)