Rankings show TCU students are in no rush to graduate

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    The average student at a national university, such as TCU, is showing that it is becoming less common for college students to graduate in four years or less. 

    In 2011, a U.S. News and World Report Rankings showed the national four-year graduation rate was 40.1 percent. According to the report, most students take up to six years to graduate.

    TCU has a 55 percent four-year graduation rate, according to the U.S. News and World Report Rankings. A school’s four-year graduation rate is measured by the percentage of an entering class that graduates within four years.

    Provost Nowell Donovan said a number of personal factors could contribute to students taking longer than four years to graduate.

    Paul Witt, associate professor of communication studies and faculty advisor, said the most common scenario he sees is students switching majors late in their college careers.

    Certain majors offered at the university, such as business, require that students maintain a certain GPA to be able to move onto the next prerequisite or upper-level class, Witt said. Some students do not meet those requirements, causing them to take a step backward on their graduation path.

     “They just do not know what direction to go when they get here,” Donovan said.

    Senior communication studies major Meredith Martin said that she lost credit hours when she transferred after her sophomore year. Martin also switched majors that year, adding a semester to her anticipated four-year plan.

    According to Donovan, a flat-rate tuition was implemented at TCU in 2001 as an incentive for full-time students to take more classes by making a full-load look more desirable and cost efficient. That means enrollment costs the same for all full-time students, whether they take 18 hours or 12 hours.

    Donovan said many students do not take advantage of the flat-rate tuition, noting that the average student only takes about 13 hours a semester.

    Students who juggle a job or internship on top of school could be another explanation for the low average of hours, Donovan said.

    According to the U.S. News and World Report, the four-year graduation rate for other private Texas schools are as follows: 

    Baylor: 52 percent
    SMU: 60 percent
    Rice: 79 percent