Saturday, August 25, 2012

Universities May Have Incentive to Delay Graduations

The received wisdoms is that students take too long to graduate from New Mexico's colleges and universities. One at least partial explanation comes from a parent who is also an economist.

Counselors routinely tell students to take only 12 hours or four classes per semester, this parent says. This "advice," if followed, ensures that students will need something over five years to get a bachelor's degree.

I had to go to the Eastern New Mexico website is the degree requirement is 128 hours. After much looking I gave up on finding this item on the University of New Mexico site, my tiny respect for UNM taking yet another blow. But there is was on page 37 of Eastern's online catalogue.

Students taking 12 hours per semester and no summer school complete 120 hours after five years. Students taking 15 hours per semester have 120 hours, but after four years. Summer school is needed. Six hours during summer school is a chore, but more than possible.

My parent informant believes that the 12-hour per semester advice stems from the notion that 15 hours or more (Gasp!) will strain the student brain. Further, the longer students stick around, the more they pay. The lottery scholarship pays all tuition, but "only" for eight consecutive semesters.

Students taking more time that those eight semesters must come up with cash. It seems that the universities have an institutional incentive to have students take a long time graduate.

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