January graduation option popular

By Ava Ginsberg

Contributing Writer

For many seniors, the stress of May graduation has been relieved, and their lives in the real world have begun.

According to Dennis Hopple, Associate Registrar, three percent of the expected 2011 graduates have completed their studies one semester early. From this three percent, 13 different majors were represented, with the three most popular being psychology, economics and biology.

“Depending upon the industry, graduating early or being available for employment/programs at a time when the majority of undergraduates are not can be of benefit because there is not as much competition from other applicants,” said Alison Ordonez, assistant director of Alumni Relations and Career Services and director of Internship Program Services at the Career Development Center. “However, there are cycles to hiring and time frames of when training programs begin.”

These time frames are industry-specific. Another factor in the job search is the economic climate, which currently is a challenge for many graduates.

“Over the past 10 years, we have seen a trend of approximately 60-70 percent of the graduating class pursuing employment while about 20-25 percent enter graduate or professional school directly upon graduation,” while a smaller percentage travel, Ordonez said.

For the early graduates of the class of 2009, 59 percent entered the workforce, 23 percent went to graduate school, four percent were both employed and in graduate school and six percent volunteered, traveled or did both.

Graduating early also means missing out on one semester of college, parties and friends. Arin Mossovitz ’11, a political science major and American literature minor, decided to stay on campus after her early graduation.

“I didn’t want to miss out on the last part of my college experience,” she said. “I live downtown, and because I am going to law school in the fall, I couldn’t really get a full time job even if I moved home for the semester. Instead, to keep myself productive, I am auditing a Spanish class at Bucknell and working part time at Sunflower Daycare as a preschool teacher.”

Many students graduate early in order to save a semester’s worth of tuition, to study for upcoming graduate school admissions tests like the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), or to begin pursing job opportunities before most of their peers.

Brittany Mastin ’11, a pre-med biology major, graduated early in order to study for the MCAT.

“My intention was to graduate early so that I could take some ‘breathing time’ before entering medical school. I am now using my extra semester without school to focus on studying for the MCAT,” she said. While studying, Mastin is also volunteering at the Venice Family Clinic.

Although Mastin had planned to graduate early from the start of her academic career, Mossovitz had a different experience. “Graduating early was not my plan all along, but it just so happened that when I was choosing classes my junior year, I realized that I had enough credits to graduate early,” she said.

Annie Olszewski ’11, a French and economics major and an international relations minor, said that she realized during her sophomore year that she would have enough credits to graduate early and decided to pursue that option.

“I am still living in my house here off campus, and I am working in the mailroom and at Zelda’s, as well as auditing a French course and [taking] an independent study,” she said. “I am also looking into grad school stuff because I want to go after a year or two to a school that has a combined JD/MBA program.”

Most early graduates seem pleased with their decision to complete college one semester early.  “I am very happy with my decision. I feel a lot less pressure, and I have more time to figure out what I want to do. I am really enjoying everything I am doing now,” Olszweski said.

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