Speedy seniors graduating a semester early – By Renata Kiss

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in early graduation among college students, including The Master’s College. There are 57 seniors out of the total 258 scheduled to graduate in Dec. 2014.

What are some of the reasons behind it?

Beverly Wax, TMC graduate in Dec. 2013 said, “There was no pressure for me to finish up early, I just took on more units because I was able to handle them. I also took a couple summer classes that were well worth it. The benefit for me was definitely monetary, I saved a semester’s worth of tuition, and I had a head start on the job market.”

The rising cost of higher education has been one of the biggest factors for leaving college early. Since many students take out loans, the sooner they can pay them off the better. Depending on other financial aid, finishing school even a semester early, can save approximately $20,000—the average cost of a new car.

Seniors who graduate in winter have more time to apply for jobs and internships without juggling classes. It also shortens “senioritis” that usually plagues second semester seniors who are ready to leave their dorms behind.

“I’m just so excited to be done with school. I’m waiting to move on and become an adult,” said Brenna O’Neill, who will graduate this month.

Besides saving money, there are other benefits waiting for the early finishers.

“Another great thing for me was that I left school gradually, instead of all at once, I went back to see friends, I went back for graduation-it was an easy transition!” Wax said.

Nevertheless, students need to weigh both sides of the situation.

Steve Nowicki, Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Duke University said in an interview in the Duke Chronicle, “…It would be unfortunate if early graduation hinders the student’s development as a “broadly educated citizen of the world” into which they are graduating.”

Liberal arts colleges pride themselves in giving students a well-rounded education which ideally lasts four years. Skipping the last semester, or the last year, might leave some holes in the student’s undergraduate skills.

In the same interview, Nowicki added, “Simply shortening that arch of the education by a semester would not be a problem, but the impact would be negative if there are forces that lead students to be less of a part of the Duke community.”

Similarly at TMC, while shortening the college years might not have a significant academic impact, the students could leave with some gaps in their time at the college. A Christian education lays the foundation for all areas of life. Rushing to get it over cuts into some of the spiritual and social rewards of such an experience.

Still, these are not enough reasons to hold many back from completing the undergraduate program early. After enduring 14-15 years of “reading, writing and arithmetic,” the desire to start a new chapter is appealing. A full-time job with regular paychecks, sometimes outweighs the intangible gains of a longer education.

By Renata Kiss

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