In less than two weeks, the University will hold commencement ceremonies for the fall 2014 graduates. I, along with many other students, will have finally completed my undergraduate studies and will be moving onto my next venture in life. As of 2013, only 52 percent of students at UT will go on to graduate in four years.
The number one gripe I hear from fellow students is the need for more affordable college tuition. While UT is not exactly cheap, it is extremely affordable for such a world-class institution. UT was ranked as the second best value college in the U.S. by The Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney magazine in 2011. With that being said, we must graduate on time for this value to hold.
I have two simple suggestions to graduating in four years or less. My first suggestion is to always enroll in 15 credit hours per long semester. Taking fewer than 15 credit hours per semester (30 per year) automatically puts us behind the four-year plan. Also, UT tuition is on a flat rate system, so any courses past the 12 credit hours are essentially free because there is no additional cost.
My second suggestion is to take summer courses. I know summer courses are not for everyone, and some departments do not even offer summer courses, but for those of us who can take summer courses, it is an excellent option. My reasoning is simple. Summer tuition is actually cheaper than long semester tuition, and summer classes are also practical because most students live off-campus and are forced to pay rent even during the summer months when many students are not enrolled in classes. Simply taking 12 credit hours in just one summer of our college career and one extra three hour course during one long semester puts us on track to graduate an entire semester early.
Some of us might still thinking, “Well, who cares if I graduate a semester early?” The answer is that one semester will cost each of us thousands of dollars in rent, cost of living, gas, textbooks and more. Instead, we are already paying for rent in the summer, so we need to take advantage of this time. I know some of us will simply sublet an apartment over the summer, but even by doing so, we still have to pay rent for five to six months during a typical long semester compared to the summer of only two to three months. That is essentially double the cost of rent each long semester compared to summer.
I personally utilized both of these suggestions and am graduating in three years. This included six long semesters and two summers. While I wouldn’t recommend it for traditional students coming straight from high school, it made more sense for myself as a non-traditional student who is just a couple of years older than traditional students. Nonetheless, I was able to save an entire year’s worth of rent, cost of living, and some money in tuition costs during my time at UT.
For those of us who are extremely focused on the cost of our education at UT, try taking advantage of these suggestions. Let’s save ourselves some money instead of griping about a problems we can fix on our own.
Daywalt is a government senior from Copperas Cove. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDaywalt.