Staying on track is key to graduating in four years.

"I always had the mindset that I wanted to finish my undergraduate degree in four years. I didn't want to rush through my college experience, but I also didn't want to delay taking the next step into the 'real world,'" says Christine Schmelzle. "I thought four years sounded right for that. Now I feel prepared for graduate school, and I'm ready to take the next steps toward the career that I want to pursue."

Schmelzle, from Flagstaff, Arizona, will be receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at Commencement on April 30, four years after beginning her academic journey at Fort Lewis College.

Completing an undergraduate education in four years can be a challenge. But the rewards can be many, including personal accomplishment, financial savings, and, as Schmelzle says, moving on to the next stage of your career. But finishing in four years isn't always easy.

Abby Jackson, a Business Administration major from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who also will be graduating at the April Commencement, agrees. "My greatest challenge was probably figuring out which classes I was going to need to finish my degree on time and sticking to that schedule," says Jackson, who also played for the Skyhawks women's basketball team. "The hardest thing was just making sure I stayed on track."

That's where Finish in Four! comes in.

Finish in Four! is an agreement that first-time freshmen can make with the college that guarantees students access to the classes needed to graduate in four years in exchange for deadline commitments. Participating students work with Finish in Four! advisors to develop academic plans that identifies critical course sequencing to assure a timely graduation, saving students the time and costs of longer undergraduate careers.

The effort graduate in four years can be worth it, say several graduates who will be participating in the April Commencement ceremonies four years after they began their undergraduate studies:

"I wanted to get my career started and enter the workplace," says Nicholas Frizzell, a Marketing major from Evergreen, Colorado. "My goal was to finish in four years and I showed myself that I could do that, which gives me confidence going into the workplace."

James Martinez, a Business Administration major from Pagosa Springs, Colorado, cites the financial rewards of the extra effort. "It was important for me to finish my degree in four years because I wanted to get out of school with the least amount of student loans as possible. Hard work pays off!"

For Psychology major Amanda Garcia, in addition to the savings and moving on with life, she finds the personal rewards of a timely graduation to be priceless. "Like all great endeavors, the highest feeling of reward is knowing one can set a goal and accomplish it with diligent success," says the soon-to-be graduate from Acoma, New Mexico. "It is with great joy I will be leaving FLC as a more knowledgeable person and having completed a bachelor’s degree in four years, on time and without delay."

"Frankly, the four years flew by in the blink of an eye," notes Jordan Mertes, a Business Administration major, from Boulder, Colorado, who reminds students to enjoy their time even as they work to graduate on time. "The classes I took were enthralling, and I enjoyed every minute of going to class and being at the great campus of Fort Lewis College."

For more information about Finish in Four! visit fortlewis.edu/finishinfour.