With the spring semester in full force, many students find themselves counting down the days until graduation. Entering college, four years can feel like forty and some students want out as soon as possible after they see that first tuition bill.
Sophomore public health major Abagail Bartus says she would love to graduate early. “It saves a year of tuition costs and gives me less time to change my mind about my major again!” Bartus explains, having changed her major from biology earlier this year.
Daniel Gladis, sophomore history major, also plans on graduating a semester early. Gladis feels that as students the purpose of time at Slippery Rock is to “get a degree and leave with a diploma” and plans to do all the things traditional students do in four years in less time, primarily to save money. Like Bartus, Gladis feels saving money is a huge benefit to graduating early.
“The least amount of expense I can have the better” explains Gladis. It is very true that graduating early can save students from paying extra semesters of tuition costs as well as housing and general costs associated with attending Slippery Rock. More bills are the only thing Gladis sees as being lost by graduating early.
Gladis plans to use the time off to do things he would not be able to while studying such as traveling abroad and working to collect
money for graduate school. It seems like there are no downfalls.
However, Gladis did bring to light to one of the issues with graduating a semester early- housing. “The lack of available semester term options is apalling and should be remedied.” Gladis says, feeling options should exist for students like him wishing to graduate early as well as for education majors that leave campus to student teach their last semester.
Dr. Rachela Permenter, professor of English, feels that while graduating early is possible, it may be shortchanging a student’s education and experience at Slippery Rock.
For many students to graduate early, it will be necessary to take summer or winter session courses and/or busier schedules during fall and spring semesters. “I think it’s definitely possible to do if you take classes in the summer,” Permenter explains, adding that taking courses in the summer does cost money- eliminating the perk of saving money – “but taking 21 credits leads to a less educated student.”
Other students also see more negatives to graduating early other than Gladis suggests. Caitlin Paul, sophomore exercise science major, feels college is about something more than getting a diploma. “Graduating early takes away a lot of great opportunities.” Paul says.
These opportunities could include becoming involved as a club officer, taking on new leadership roles, on-campus employment opportunities, or potentially missing the chance to take a course that could be beneficial to a student. Some courses are offered as infrequently as once every four years. Students graduating early could miss the chance to take those courses.
Paul went on to explain, “There’s no right choice for everyone. Some people will get a lot more out of being at college for four years versus someone who finishes in three or even three and a half years.”
To students planning on graduating early, Dr. Permenter poses a question: “Why not take advantage of what you can learn here?” She emphasized how working at a steady, solid rate to earn your undergraduate degree can better prepare students for their futures. Reflecting on students she has advised in the past, Permenter mentioned that “adding another minor and staying an extra year may be the best decision you ever make.”
Stances on graduating early vary greatly and there are definitive positives and negatives to making the choice. There is no one answer and students thinking about graduating early should discuss the option with their advisors and make an educated decision.