Perspectives: Early vs. Late Graduation

What it’s like to leave the college nest in more or less than the expected 4 years

Illustrator: Jaye Ahn

Annie Burdick, CLA, graduating in three and a half years

My experience with graduating early has been very odd. Though most relatives and people in general hear that I’m graduating early and congratulate me on working hard and saving money, others question why I’d ever want to leave college early. They think I’m giving up all the partying and fun that college meant to them. And in some ways, I guess I am. I did love college, but more importantly, it was a means to an end for me. It brought me to the city I love, it taught me what I needed to know, and helped me find opportunities in my field. And honestly, it wasn’t a totally appealing decision to graduate early. Though saving money and getting to work sooner was a no brainer, I did know that I might feel like I was missing out. I won’t have a last spring break, my friends will all still be getting school resources and doing school activities while I’m a part of the struggling workforce. Still, I’m so tired of being a student and tired of school. Senioritis is real. It infuriates me every day that I’m working 50-60 hours a week at three internships that teach me far more than classes do and still barely supporting myself financially, all while professors for my final two classes still expect school to be my number one concern. It isn’t anymore, and that’s a huge difference from how I felt a few years ago. Now that I’m this close, graduation can’t come soon enough.

Anonymous, CSE, graduating in five years

When I first realized I would need more than four years to graduate, I was extremely disheartened and ashamed of myself. I had a lot of pressure from outside sources to graduate in four years, and I felt like I was inferior for not being able to achieve that. In addition to my parents, the university put a lot of pressure on me to graduate on time even though that wasn’t in my best interest. That weighed heavily on me, and it took me awhile to get past that. After some time, I began to accept my decision to stay a fifth year. I realized that a lot more people took longer than four years to graduate than I previously thought, and that people’s circumstances vary greatly. In the grand scheme of things, I now know that an extra year won’t matter in getting my degree, as long as I get it done. Most of my friends and peers have also been supportive and didn’t judge me when hearing that I’m taking longer to graduate.