The Fast Track: FCLC Still Considers the Three-Year Degree


Published: November 19, 2009

When summer approaches, many students look forward to some downtime, vacation or even a change of pace with a summer job. Some students work to help pay tuition or explore their interests with internships. But what if there was a way to skip the summer job and take classes straight through, leaving you with an entire year to intern without the demands of college?  Would students want this?  Or would the removal of summer from the academic calendar be met with resistance?

A senator from Tenn., Alexander Lamar, claimed in a recent Newsweek article “The Three Year Solution” that the summer is no longer practical in the academic calendar. Summer was initially incorporated into the calendar before the American Revolution, when students ditched the books for the farm. In today’s society, however, the student who takes a break from his studies to toil the soil is a bit of a rarity.

But this idea of a college degree in three years isn’t a new one; in fact, Judson College in Alabama has offered a three-year program for over 40 years. Students attend “short terms” in May and June, where they earn the credits required for graduation. Bates College in Maine and Ball State College in Indiana are also following this trend.

As concluded in a news article in the Nov. 5 issue of the Observer, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) won’t be falling in line with the three-year degree trend. But what do FCLC students think about the idea? If it was an option, would they jump at the opportunity to get that diploma a year early? Or are they content with the academic calendar the way it is?

“I definitely wouldn’t want to do this, because the real world sucks. I go to college to ‘go to college.’ I’d rather live in the fake world than the real world,” said Sal Serravillo,  FCLC ’11.

“Two of my friends are graduating earlier,” said Amnah Almukhtar, FCLC ’11, “but I want to take the four years to figure out what I want.”

Besides taking the time to figure out where their interests lie or to be able to enjoy time as college students, some feel that it would  be difficult to complete their majors in three years.

“I can’t [complete my degree in three years] because I’m a natural science major,” said Mia Malin, FCLC ’12. “It doesn’t make sense because you can’t learn the material as well and you won’t do as well on the MCATs.”

Other students, however, feel that the benefits of graduating early greatly outweigh the drawbacks.

“It [would] just be easier to start my life earlier,” said Stephanie Cipriano, FCLC ’12.

“If I could receive a three-year degree, I would totally take advantage of it, even if that meant I would have to take summer classes,” said Christina Iannacone, FCLC ’12. “Not only would it save money in the end, but it would also allow you to apply to graduate school earlier and enable you to enter the work force at a younger age.”

Other students feel it would be beneficial because of their specific career paths.

“I think a three-year program would be amazing, especially for the dancers,” said Sarah Mae Blades FCLC ’12. “Getting the degree in a shorter amount of time will get you out in the dance world that much sooner.”

“It could be appealing to me [to graduate in three years] because it’s an opportunity to get to do another major within four years and gives people who are dancers more options in terms of career and such,” said  Iantha Richardson, FCLC ’12.

Although a three-year program may be a bit of an adjustment for students, it would also be a change for professors.

Julie Grenet,  adjunct professor of French, saw both the positive and negative sides of the issue.

“If the three-year program were to co-exist as an option alongside four-year program, then it might have certain advantages. For example, if it were structured in such a way that it brought down the cost of higher education, thereby extending its accessibility, this would absolutely be a reason to implement it,” Grenet said. “As far as the four-year program is concerned, there are distinct advantages that are worth preserving.

For students, the summer months provide an opportunity to engage in jobs and internships so that when they graduate, they are more prepared to enter the job market, having had not only academic training but also opportunities to gain pragmatic work experience. These summer jobs and internships might also help students to figure out if the career they thought they wanted to pursue actually is or isn’t a good fit for them.”

The lure of leisure time to figure out where one’s interests lie, a more relaxed approach to learning and a break from it all during the summer may be too much to convince students that three years is better than four. But it’s clear that some feel completing college in three years is a definite option, which leaves the door open for a move towards this trend in the future.