US students show little interest in 4-year graduation guarantees

March 7, 2012

In a bid to increase its 4-year graduation rate, the University at Buffalo has created a pledge guaranteeing that students will complete their degree in no more than 4 years, joining several other US institutions that offer such pledges. Despite this trend, few students are taking advantage of guarantee programs. Winona State University dropped its program 2 years ago, but not because of low participation. "It's rare to find a student who wants to make a commitment to graduate in four years," says the Minnesota-based institution's admissions director. "They are working, looking for diversity of internships, travel-study programs, and sometimes, it has to do with the job climate. They think three or four more classes will give (them) a double major or enhance this extra skill." Meanwhile, Virginia Wesleyan College is seeing a significant increase in participation. Last fall, 350 out of 439 freshmen signed the grad pledge -- the most since the program began about a decade ago. "I think the economy has a lot to do with why students and parents want to make sure it doesn't take longer than it needs to," says the college's admissions dean. The University of Calgary offers a 4-year graduation guarantee. The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required)