Earning a Bachelor's Degree in 4 Years Comes with Many Benefits

By Catherine Groux
Posted June 28, 2012 07:48 AM

Studies show time is of the essence when earning a bachelor's degree.
Studies show time is of the essence when earning a bachelor's degree.
Today, only about 60.6% of full-time students and 24.3% of part-time students earn a bachelor's degree in eight years, according to College Complete America. However, the number of individuals who earn this credential in four years is even lower. Although four years it ideal, the average time it takes to earn a bachelor's degree is now 4.7 years among full-time students and 5.6 years among part-time students.

While there are many obstacles that can prevent people from earning a bachelor's degree in the designated four years, research shows that if they can meet this goal, they could see many benefits. 

A Better Chance of Graduating

As College Complete America states in a 2011 report, "Time is the enemy of college completion." Historically, data has shown that the longer it takes students to graduate, the less likely they are to actually earn a degree. While there are many reasons for this, College Complete America points to the fact that about 75% of degree seekers are juggling families, jobs and schools.

"All of this adds up to more and more time," the report states. "As the clock runs and the calendar turns, we all know what happens: Students’ lives fill up with jobs, relationships, marriages, children and mortgages; the list goes on and on. Not surprisingly, college often gets left behind." 

A Higher Salary

While students who earn a bachelor's degree in four years have the chance to enter the workforce sooner than their peers and therefore earn a little extra money, studies show they also earn more over time. A new report by the University of Tennessee Center for Business and Economic Research shows that students who earn their degrees in four years tend to have higher salaries than individuals who do not, The Associated Press states.

The research shows that students who spent six or more years earning a bachelor's degree tended to earn the same amount as individuals who did not complete their degrees at all. In general, this means their salaries were up to $13,000 less than those of students who earned a bachelor's degree in four years.

While these results surprised him, David Wright, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission policy adviser, said the salary difference could be attributed to how employers perceive students who took only four years to earn a degree. In general, these individuals are seen as motivated, hard working and focused, which are all qualities employers look for in potential hires.

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