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Why a Three-Year Degree is the Fit for Me

Friday, May 12

I am pursuing a three-year bachelor of the arts degree in journalism, and even after only a session and a half, I cannot imagine switching to another degree track. God has shown me, in ways both subtle and obvious, that this track is part of his plan for me and I know that, despite only being in it for a relatively short amount of time, it has helped me to grow in ways that I would not have considered when I first was applying to Grace.

During the summer before my senior year of high school, while I was looking at college options and filling out applications for both scholarships and colleges/universities, the financial value and cost of each option was on the forefront of my mind. The numbers were there, spelled out in black and white and often in bold, listing amounts that were probably greater than my lifetime net worth up to that point. It was an intimidating figure, and while I knew that God had a plan for me, I was nervous because it was not immediately apparent what that plan would hold. When I was looking at Grace and their three-year option, along with the promise not to raise tuition, I knew that this college was onto something. After a very generous scholarship offered along with my acceptance, and the chance to improve it at a competition, I was feeling more and more peaceful about the choice.

However, the money is not the end of the story, nor is it even the majority; it is only the beginning. As soon as I got to Grace, the small idea that the whole degree-in-three-years plan was both viable and beneficial gained a large amount of traction as my first session started off incredibly well. I was able to take a class that directly lined up with my major, that both propelled me into opportunities on campus and off campus. In addition, next semester, I have at least one class directly related to my major in each session, which is a huge positive for me as it allows me to continuously grow and develop the skills that I need to have to be able to move into my chosen field after graduation. Even in the sessions that have more required courses or general rather than specific electives, there is the hope and assurance that the schedule is condensed and that the dry spell will not last longer than eight weeks.

With that compression comes the most personally challenging benefit, the one for which I am most grateful. Each class is only eight weeks long, and the professors have to and get to spend most of their class time teaching instead of feeding rules to students or trying to ensure that they have enough topics to last the school year, both of which were experiences that I had in high school. However, focusing on the teaching more does mean that the students are forced to be more personally responsible in their work. It has been a challenge, as I am used to being able to stay well above the curve with a minimum of effort, but I have also grown in both my work ethic and in my competence because of the demands that have been placed on me. I have learned to write effectively and expressively while still under unyielding deadlines, which is a valuable skill to have as a journalist, and also how to balance healthy habits, like sleeping and exercising, and socializing while still ensuring there is enough time to finish homework and keep the room clean, along with all of the other little demands on time that separate college from high school. I would not have been able to grow in these ways without the high class load that comes from the compressed schedule, and I am forever grateful that God placed me in a school and a community where programs like this are in place.

This is not to say that everyone should immediately jump onto the three-year plan, as each student has a unique learning style and life situation, but it is an encouragement to give it serious thought. It is not overwhelming in its demands, but it is not an easy option either. It creates an experience that rewards dedication and personal responsibility, and can help teach skills that will be very beneficial for actual adulthood. It is the structure that I did not know that I was missing throughout my entire time in high school; I cannot imagine going back and doing anything else instead.