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College shouldn’t be never-ending



Today, more and more kids think college should take five or six years.

Why? If you plan it right, get the core courses out of the way in the first two years, identify a major so you know what you’ll need to graduate, it will take about the same number of classes and hours to graduate as it took in the ’60s and ’70s.

College is expensive, so getting in and out as quickly as possible, finding a job and becoming independent should be something we want our kids to do. The goal should be: Get out of school and get a job!

A recent report showed that six years into it, a third of University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University students still haven’t graduated.

It’s even worse for the state’s regional colleges.

If a third of our students can’t finish college in six years, their future and the future of our state is worrisome. What’s worse is letting or encouraging kids to move back home after they graduate. I can’t imagine any baby boomer kids even considering moving home after they graduated college.

Oklahoma’s graduation rates have been far too low for decades. Graduating later than necessary, or not at all, means our kids will earn less than they should/could and contribute less to our state and nation.

Likewise, getting out of school on time or early means they’ll earn more and be greater contributors to society. Granted, there are some people who will need more time because of family or financial obligations, but surely that’s not a third of those attending college.

When I was dean of the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, I heard all the excuses about why taking three or four classes a semester was difficult, about not being able to work and go to school at the same time. Yet these students often had time for team sports or intramurals.

Adults work 40-50 hours a week, so our kids won’t die from exhaustion taking five classes for 15 hours a week.

In fact, they’ll still have plenty of time to study and work part-time. Take five classes a semester, every fall and spring semester for four years and you graduate! Throw in a couple of summer sessions and you can graduate early.

I often advised students that employers were more likely to be impressed with students who graduated in four years with a respectable grade-point average than those with a very high GPA who never finish.

Think of it this way: The sooner you begin your career, the better your chances for a raise or promotion. And once you have a job, there’s a chance your employer might help finance your graduate degree.

I hate to sound like an old guy, but if baby boomers could get through college in four years while working at least part-time, so can today’s kids.

Orza is president and CEO of KSBI Channel 52.

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

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