Carol Biliczky

Want to get out of college in three years?

Students might have a better chance to do that at Ohio’s tax-supported universities.

The Ohio budget bill required all public universities to provide three-year plans for 10 percent of their baccalaureate programs by Tuesday and 60 percent by 2014.

The University of Akron announced three-year options for 30 programs, and Kent State selected 22, on Tuesday to meet the requirement.

“Time can be the enemy of many students,” Jim Petro, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, said in a media release. “A shortened time frame to obtain the credit hours ... will make these students available to employers more quickly.”

Three-year options don’t relieve students of the traditional responsibility of a four-year degree. They can’t stray off their chosen path, shift majors or fail courses without endangering their plan to graduate early.

They still have to fulfill the traditional number of credit hours needed for a degree — 128 at UA, for example.

They also might be under extra pressure while in high school. This might mean taking college courses or passing Advanced Placement tests to earn college credit. They might need college courses in the summer to rack up enough credits.

All of that takes foresight and perseverance, UA Provost Mike Sherman said.

“It takes a special person with specific goals and objectives to graduate in three years,” he said. “It’s going to motivated individuals with good counseling.”

One student who already has chosen that option is Claudia Bertram of Hinckley, who will graduate from UA in December with a bachelor’s degree in human resources management.

She spent a year as a dance major, switched her major and loaded her schedule with as many as eight courses a semester — almost twice the norm — to graduate in 2.5 years.

“Not everyone sees it the way I do, but it was a wonderful opportunity,” she said. “You rise to the occasion.”

Still, not many students choose to graduate in four years in Ohio, much less three years.

The nonprofit Complete College America says that the six-year graduation rate for Kent State is only 49 percent; at UA, it’s 34 percent. Only about 10 students per year, excluding pre-med students, graduate in three years at UA.

Three-year options at UA include business administration, applied math and English. KSU’s offerings include aeronautics, communication studies and computer information systems.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at cbiliczky@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3729.