“Taking the victory lap”

Published by adviser, Author: Stehpanie Clark - Rocket Contributor, Date: November 15, 2012
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“Super senior” is a term that does not refer to college seniors who have super powers, but the phenomenon where students have to wait an additional year or two before they graduate.

Dr. Amanda Yale, SRU’s Associate Provost, said that there are multiple reasons that a student would have to wait a semester or two before they can graduate.

There are no repercussions to staying an extra year, according to Dr. Yale. She said that the main focus of Slippery Rock is just that they graduate.

“Students don’t have time in high school to explore the different career opportunities,” Dr. Yale said.

Many students change majors at least once because they discover a new passion that they did not know they had, according to Dr. Yale, adding that students who choose the option of adding on majors and minors often have to complete more credits, which in turn pushes back their anticipated graduation date.

“Super” senior communication major Marcie Johnson is one of many students who found herself staying at SRU for an extra period of time.

“I stayed an extra year because of two main reasons,” Johnson said. “One, I changed my major during my sophomore year, and also, I was extremely involved in my first couple years at Slippery Rock with University Program Board (UPB), Student Government and other organizations on campus.”
Johnson, 22, said that because she changed her major during her sophomore year, she has shifted between several advisors that are supposed to help her schedule.

“I can say that I have had three different advisors at Slippery Rock and I have really learned different things from each of them, but I would say that I feel like I didn’t get the correct guidance within the transitional between different advisors,” she said.

Johnson explained that while it was difficult to get guidance from advisors, she had a lot of support from numerous other faculty members, who helped her get to her goal of graduating.

Some other reasons for students staying for longer periods, according to Dr. Yale, are that some students need to repeat courses due to poor grades, and that some also need to stay to maintain a certain grade point average so they can graduate. Dr. Yale said that some students also need to lower their course load, or even take a semester or two off due to personal reasons.

“Super” senior resort recreation/tourism major Sarah Cadwallader, 22, said she had the problem where she had to take a lighter load due to a personal injury.

“I tore some ligaments in my knee playing volleyball, so for two semesters I took a lighter load with only 12 credits,” Cadwallader said.

Even with her two semesters of only 12 credits, Cadwallader said her advisors were more than willing to help her graduate in four years, but she chose to just stay an extra semester.

While Dr. Yale said there are always going to be super seniors, she also added that students have many tools to help themselves graduate on time. For example, there is plenty of academic support such as the tutor and writing center, and each student’s academic career is kept track of electronically with the Darwin degree audit, said Dr. Yale.

Another way that SRU helps seniors that are nearing graduation is by having certain courses be waived or substituted. For some seniors, they only need to take one or two more classes before they can graduate, so at this point they could talk to their advisor about having a course waived or have another course that has already been taken count for the class block that is still needed, according to executive director of academic records Elliot Baker.

“In 2011, there was over 2,000 requests for substitutions and waived classes in all years,” Baker said, “and the number grows near registration time.”

Overall, the norm for college is to graduate in four years, and while it is a little different for everyone, SRU offers many programs that help improve the four-year graduation rate and help seniors find the program that fits them – even if it means staying an extra semester or two, according to Dr. Yale.

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