Save money by graduating college in 3 years instead of 4

A small liberal arts college in Oneonta, N.Y. is offering students an option to get a degree in three years instead of four, saving more than $40,000.

Students at Hartwick College will complete the standard 120 credits, taking 18 credits in the fall, 4 in a January term and 18 in the spring, and still will have their summers free for internships or jobs, according to a New York Times story.

While it sounds great -- saving $40,000 and not having to go into debt for a fourth year of college -- it also looks like it could put a bit of a rush on college and not give the students the free time to enjoy the experience of going to college and taking the time to smell the flowers.

It's kind of like how kindergarten is now like first grade, with homework instead of nothing but free play time.

Cramming four years of coursework into three years may get you out the college door a lot sooner and will save you money, but you'll probably graduate a little more frazzled than others.

Hartwick's tuition next year will be $32,500, which is 3.9% higher than the current year. Room and board will be about $9,000.

I knew plenty of people in college who took five years to graduate, and not because they had extra money burning a hole in their bank accounts. They wanted a more laid-back college experience.

I took 18 units a semester at San Jose State University -- not the most expensive college around -- for a year or so. My goal wasn't to graduate in three years, but in four, and to need to take only a few classes my senior year while busy at the college newspaper. It was a fun four years, but the senior year was more relaxing and worth the extra cost.

Most people only go to college once, so they might as well slow down and take the time to enjoy it.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at

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