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Univ. of Colorado has discussed 3-year degrees

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. – An undergraduate college degree in three years? It might be an option at the University of Colorado some day.

University deans have discussed the idea in the last year. But CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said Sunday there are no formal plans right now to consider joining colleges that offer fast-track undergraduate programs to those wanting to save money.

“It’s not an active discussion at this point,” he said.

Such programs are already in place at campuses of Western Illinois University and the University of North Carolina. Amid a weak economy and rising tuition, more educators are rethinking the traditional college timeframe.

CU Regent Stephen Ludwig, vice chairman of the board’s academic affairs committee, paid his way through college and thinks the university should seriously consider offering three-year degrees.

“The three-year program is intriguing,” Ludwig told the Daily Camera newspaper.

CU-Boulder’s long-term “Flagship 2030” plan suggests that the university switch to a year-round, three-semester system.

Hilliard pointed out that students are already permitted to seek degrees in less than four years, and that several dozen a year do so. Those students have entered college with credits earned through Advanced Placement courses in high school, or take heavy course loads and attend summer school.

More than half of CU’s students graduate in four years or less, he said.

However, CU student Jordan Bailey doesn’t want to hurry to the graduation finish line. She transferred to CU-Boulder from Pennsylvania State.

“What’s the rush? I want to enjoy the opportunity to the fullest,” she said. “I transferred here and it was hard enough to make up those lost credits. Heavy course loads are no fun.”

Alexander McCormick, executive director of the Indiana-based National Survey of Student Engagement, says colleges are in a “wait-and-see” mode, monitoring whether three-year degrees appeal to students.

“My gut reaction is that we should first get students to graduate in four years before we start thinking about getting a subset of students out in three years,” McCormick said.


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