November 16 2012

Cal-State System Getting Tough on “Super” Seniors

Vicki E. Alger

 

The college slacker makes for fun Hollywood movies—but the cost to taxpayers, institutions, and other students is anything but. Students who take more than four years to finish a four-year degree is a growing problem. To be sure some of those students may be pursuing double majors. In other instances, colleges and universities may be to blame for students taking so long by not offering enough sections of the courses they need to graduate on time (in which case, students have to pay addition tuition and fees to cover additional semesters).

As the San Francisco AP reports, Cal-State officials are considering imposing a “graduation incentive fee” on students who dilly dally around:

They're called super seniors, and they can be found on nearly every college campus in America.

These veteran undergraduates have amassed many more units — and taken many more classes — than they need to earn a degree, with college careers that can stretch well beyond the traditional four years.

At California State University, the nation's largest four-year college system, school administrators say enough is enough. They say the 23-campus system can no longer afford to let students linger so long without collecting their diplomas.

After gentler efforts to prod super seniors toward graduation, Cal State officials want to start charging hefty fees that could almost triple the cost for students who have completed five years of full-time undergraduate work. …

"If we can graduate more students, we can create more capacity to enroll more students," said Eric Forbes, the system's assistant vice chancellor for student academic services. "It's about access and creating more efficiency in the system."…

The super-senior charge is one of three proposed fees that are projected to generate $30 million in annual revenue and create space for up to 18,000 additional students. The board is also expected to vote this week on imposing new fees on students who repeat a course or take 18 or more units in one semester.

The proposed fee would be phased in over two years. It would apply to students with 160 or more semester units in fall 2013 before the threshold falls to 150 units in fall 2014. Most majors require 120 units.

Students need to do their part, and so do colleges and universities. Ensuring students are prepared for college-level work, making majors expectations clear, and having the courses students need—when they need them—are steps that need to be taken as part of any plan to impose additional fees. Together, these changes will help separate the slackers from the students who are doing their best to finish on time and enter the workforce.

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