3-year bachelor’s?

University of Toledo offers 3-year bachelor’s degree in certain majors

So here’s an interesting development: A university is offering a 3-year degree.  At least, it’s a plan for a student to complete the requirements of a 4-year degree in 3-years, not a watered-down degree.

My gut reaction is this isn’t good.  This seems designed to appeal to people who think the certification is the goal, and they want to get their bachelor’s as fast as possible to move on.  I’ve had a lot of students who treat courses as a motions to go through to get that diploma rather than an opportunity to expand their knowledge, and this programs seems to reinforce this idea rather than deter it.

On the other hand, the university says up front that this is designed for motivated students (they have to work through their summers, possibly take an increased workload) and come in with credits.  So this isn’t a way for slackers to dodge work.  That said, the students I mentioned above weren’t slackers (Berkeley students, whatever their pedagogical faults, aren’t slackers compared to the average undergrad); they just couldn’t or wouldn’t spend enough time and energy to understand the material rather than absorb enough to pass (by which I mean a B, because that’s the new passing grade).

Now that I write this down, it seems my main beef is student’s attitude toward learning, especially if they really understand what “learning” means, or if our school system has trained them to equate learning with being able to do X on the midterm, and I’m not sure what impact this program will have on that.  University of Toledo says this was motivated by a desire to save students money, not necessarily provide a better education.

Another consideration is, if you’ve got tunnel vision to finish in 3 years, you won’t take the time to explore all that a traditional university campus offers you.  I know I regret not exploring more when I was an undergraduate.  A 3-year program also doesn’t leave room for internships and job experience.  And considering the majors they are offering this program in, barring economics and political science, I think these students will have an uphill fight finding a job in the new economy.

Yeah, let’s just say I’m skeptical how this will work out.


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