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Proulx: CSU knows many can’t finish college in 4 years but doesn’t care

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Collegian | Chloe Leline

Editor’s Note: Read the Spanish version of this article here.

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

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Lately, across the country, there has been an increase in college students finishing their degree in more years than the traditional four. It’s probably a topic you’ve brought up with your parents, who are vehemently opposed to the idea. Surprisingly, though, only 49% of students finish their undergraduate program in four years, according to 2016 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

However, just because this is becoming more popular does not mean it is accessible to everyone who needs it. We have to ask ourselves why so many students find it so difficult to finish college in what is considered a normal amount of time.

Despite these increasing trends, adding a year of college is very expensive. At Colorado State University, you can be looking at shelling out another $12,896 as a Colorado resident. If you’re a nonresident, you’re looking at $33,752.

Many people in our parents’ generation are quick to call Generation Z lazy or unmotivated and blame this on the fact that fewer people are graduating in four years. The reality is that it is finally acceptable in society to struggle. A large chunk of Generation Z struggles with learning disabilities or mental health disorders, and living in the age of social media is exhausting.”

This should not be the case, especially when our advisers tell us that everyone is different in the credit load they can handle in a semester. This is a great message — only take what you can handle — but these words aren’t helpful at all.

While the inequality in this country already inhibits a vast percentage of the population from even attending college, add the intersectionality of mental health and various other factors, and now you have even fewer attending. It might seem like a surprise reading this because most Fort Collins residents are wealthy, but $12,896 is not an OK price to ask of people who are drowning trying to complete their degree.

The trap we are stuck in here is almost comical. Our advisers are telling us we should only take the workload we can handle, which leads us to taking fewer credits per semester than what allows us to graduate on time, which then allows the university to take even more money from us.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying CSU should make additional years past four free — although I’m not exactly against that — but at the end of your fourth year, the average in-state student can already expect to pay upward of $51,584. Giving even more money than this when you might be experiencing loss, depression, ADHD or any other mental or physical illness or disability is ludicrous.

This is not a wild thought, believe it or not. This is already in practice in many places, such as community colleges, which allow you to take as many credits as you want at your own pace while remaining a full-time student.

Being a full-time student at CSU requires taking at least 12 credit hours a semester, and without being one, you lose access to a large number of student services. Unless you entered college with credits from high school, to reach the required 120 credits to graduate, you need to take 15 credits each semester for eight semesters.

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Many people in our parents’ generation are quick to call Generation Z lazy or unmotivated and blame this on the fact that fewer people are graduating in four years. The reality is that it is finally acceptable in society to struggle. A large chunk of Generation Z struggles with learning disabilities or mental health disorders, and living in the age of social media is exhausting. The American Psychological Association reported, “Compared with other generations, Gen Z is least likely to report very good or excellent mental health.”

So CSU continues to roll in massive amounts of money that they continually waste on buying out contracts. They continue to not invest in or acknowledge the fact that students are struggling, and until they see that average is actually overloading, students will continue to be set up for failure and loans.

Reach Caden Proulx at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributors
Caden Proulx
Caden Proulx, Print Director
Caden Proulx is a human development and family studies student at Colorado State University pursuing his passion for graphic design at The Collegian. Originally from Austin, Texas, Caden's journalistic journey began in the high school yearbook department, where his passion for design grew. This led to him to seek out student media when he got to Colorado State University. Starting as a page designer in his first year, Caden found a home at The Collegian. This led him to the position of print director his sophomore year. Despite majoring in HDFS, Caden seamlessly integrates his hobby of graphic design with his academic pursuits. The Collegian has become an integral part of his success at CSU. Now firmly rooted in Colorado, Caden is eager to contribute to the student media landscape, The Collegian and its success. He loves working alongside other excited students who are talented and have a lot to teach and push him to continue to grow as a visual journalist.
Chloe Leline
Chloe Leline, Print Editor
Chloe Leline is a fourth-year art student majoring in graphic design and is the current print editor for The Rocky Mountain Collegian. Some of her duties include overlooking and editing the majority of the layout design in the newspaper and pushing the creative limits of the overall paper design. She was born and raised in a one-stoplight Michigan town and moved with her family to the big city of Austin, Texas, at 10 years old. There, she was able to get more in touch with her creative passions. In middle school, she discovered her love for design, and in high school, she became the editor in chief of her school's yearbook. These passions led her to Colorado State University. Art and print production give Leline an outlet to express her love of everything visual. Whether it’s a spread design in the newspaper or a quick sketch in her notebook, creating tangible things brings her happiness every day.  Working alongside other driven individuals at The Rocky Mountain Collegian brings Leline the extra inspiration that she has been longing for. She hopes her love for design can shine throughout the paper and bring readers that extra spark of joy she was lucky enough to find.

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