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How to Graduate on Time

January 17, 2023
Stephanie and Andrea advising her classes.

Most students enter college with a four-year graduation plan. But did you know less than half of students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program graduate in that four-year timeframe? According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as of 2019, only 41 percent of students earned their bachelor’s degree in four years. So, what steps do you need to take to stay on track with a four-year degree? Keep up with your courses and walk across the stage on time by checking these tips!

When in doubt, enroll Undeclared!  

One of the biggest mistakes students make when coming into college is rushing to declare a major — but an estimated 20 to 50 percent of students take additional time and enter college undeclared. Additionally, roughly 75 percent of students change their major at least once during their college career.

At York College, Undeclared is one of our largest majors. Students who enroll undeclared have the opportunity to fulfill general education requirements while getting a taste of numerous majors they might be interested in. Our Undeclared students are also paired with a Peer Advisor who mentors them through their Undeclared academic journey. With the support from your Peer Advisor and our Undeclared Student Advising staff, you’ll be ready to find your home in a major that’s right for you while staying on track to graduate in four years. 

Practice time management and self-discipline 

Be sure to stay on top of your studies. Time management and self-discipline are two of the most important skills that students need to acquire early in their college careers. It’s easy to get caught up in extracurricular activities and spread yourself too thin when getting involved around campus. Keep an eye on your grades and make a point to reach out to campus resources like the Academic Success Center if at any point you feel like you could use a little extra help outside of class. Nothing will set you back more than having to retake classes required for your degree. 

Stay connected with your Academic Advisor 

Your Academic Advisor will be one of your greatest resources (and possibly biggest cheerleader) during your time at YCP. We’ve found that our most successful students are the ones who take advantage of collaborating with their advisor, and Director of Academic Advising Kia Kuresman is a firm believer in the importance of forming a good relationship with your Academic Advisor.

“At YCP, we believe academic advisors play a vital role in a student’s development of critical thinking and decision-making skills,” she says.“We recommend students meet regularly with their academic advisors to ensure they are receiving the most accurate and up-to-date information about their curriculum and future course offerings and opportunities outside the published requirements.”

While it is your responsibility to take the lead on planning your courses for future semesters, your advisor will be there to help guide you every step of the way. They’ll push you to become more independent while making sure you know that you have someone to turn to when you need some extra help or guidance. 

Utilize the Degree Planner platform

Along with your Academic Advisor, YCP’s Degree Planner platform will ensure you’re on the right path to earn your degree in the four-year timeframe. You’ll sit in the driver’s seat when it comes to planning your path to graduation. The Degree Planner is part of the Spartan Success Network, and will act as your roadmap on the way to your destination (your degree).The software will also give you feedback on your progress and reroute you if/when needed. When it comes time to schedule your classes for upcoming semesters, you will be guided in choosing classes that make the most sense for an on-time graduation. Your advisor will review your schedule and communicate any suggestions or changes that you should consider. 

“Students are responsible for ensuring all standards and requirements are met, as stated in the College Catalog,” Kia says. “The Degree Planner is a tool shared by students and academic advisors to create and manage academic plans, and facilitate more productive advising meetings. While students are the primary authors of their degree plans, advisors are editors and guides to help students refine that plan.”

Besides helping you stay on top of the classes required for your program, the Degree Planner will help to keep you on top of the number of credits you’re taking. To be considered full-time, students need to enroll in 12 credits per semester. However, in order to reach the number of credits needed to graduate in four years at YCP, students will need to take an average of 15 credits each semester to meet the required 120 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree. By utilizing the Degree Planner, you’ll be able to see your progress and ensure that you’re registering for the number of credits needed to hit that 120 credit goal.

Ultimately, graduating on time requires careful planning and the utilization of the tools and resources available to you. Take control of your path to graduation and make sure you’re taking the necessary steps needed to walk across the stage according to your timeline!