When I began my studies at Temple in 2014, the Fly in 4 agreement had just been implemented, and I was eager to sign up. The agreement outlined a plan to ensure a four-year graduation plan. And if these students met all necessary criteria and still were not able to graduate in four years, Temple would cover the cost of their remaining coursework.
The program has the potential to be beneficial for students. But in its current presentation, the initiative is incredibly confusing and doesn’t seem to actually offer much assistance to students. The university should reevaluate the presentation of the program to make it more understandable and therefore more helpful to students.
A few years into my time at Temple, I changed my major. A friend told me that, by doing this, I was now exempt from participating in the Fly in 4 agreement.
Since that conversation, I found a lot of students, including myself, thought changing their major or failing a class voided the Fly in 4 agreement. But these are actually misconceptions.
Temple offers a lot of resources to students to help keep them on track for graduation, including advising appointments, program bulletins that outline semesterly coursework and access to the Degree Audit Reporting System. These resources are available to all students, not just those who signed up for Fly in 4.
Temple has always offered these resources to students to help ensure they could graduate in four years, said Jodi Levine Laufgraben, the vice provost for policy, organizational and leadership studies.
Fly in 4 is a centralized way to provide these organizational tactics but with the added benefit of Temple footing the bill for additional courses if a student does not graduate within four years and follows the requirements of the program, like semesterly advising meetings, participating in priority class registration, an annual advance in class standing and having a graduation check.
“If a student meets all of these checkpoints and cannot graduate in four years, Temple will pay for any remaining course or courses,” Laufgraben said. “Nothing really knocks you out [of the program].”
But it’s concerning that many students were still under the perception that we could become exempt from the agreement somehow.
“When I first started, four years ago, I signed up for Fly in 4,” Eboni Killing, a senior public health major, said. “They didn’t tell me that [if] you fail a class, you’re no longer eligible for Fly in 4, so I didn’t know that.”
Killing’s belief that she was no longer able to participate in any part of the agreement highlights the lack of communication surrounding it. And I’m aware that other students are concerned about their ability to participate in the agreement because of a failed major course or a major change.
Students shouldn’t be stuck wondering about their academic or graduation status; this concern also stretches to transfer students, who typically find the program counterproductive.
“The Fly in 4 program seems like it would be pretty lucrative to all students, when in fact if you transfer or if you’re in any other situation that isn’t ideal to the student that came as a freshman, it doesn’t work out for you,” Nyair Clarke, a junior advertising major, said.
“The program was designed for first-time, full-time freshmen, but we didn’t want to exclude transfers,” said Laufgraben. “If a transfer student, based on what they transfer in, in the time they were attending another institution, plus what they need here can equal four years, they’re given the opportunity to accept the agreement.”
After speaking with Laufgraben, the different components of Fly in 4 are much clearer to me, but they need to be that much clearer to the student body.
With many students confused regarding their participation and eligibility for each part of Fly in 4, the agreement needs to be further addressed and discussed by all students and faculty.
The misconceptions that students have are legitimate concerns that the university needs to address.