Opinion: Is December Graduation Worth It?

Brisa Ramirez

Brisa Ramirez

When I first found out that I had the option of graduating a semester early, I was absolutely thrilled. I instantly thought about how much money I would be saving and how much more quickly I could potentially find a “real” job. While I’m still really happy about graduating a semester early, I’ve realized there are several downsides when it comes to getting the true senior year experience.

A lot of the senior activities take place during the spring semester. The senior retreat, for example, is one that takes place during the spring semester.  Even if I do end up attending senior retreat, it will be months after I’m officially done with college.

Graduation weekend will also feel like a bit of an afterthought, although I’m definitely still going. The only graduation ceremony here at Southwestern is in May, so if I want my family to actually watch me graduate, it’s my only option. It would be nice if there were a ceremony in December as well.

My early graduation almost goes completely unnoticed. Since the only ceremony is in May, December graduates are considered a part of the class of 2016 (or whatever the following year is). Even the senior apparel I receive will say 2016 on it. While I understand the logic behind that, it’s as if I’m not actually graduating early.

In the spring semester of 2015, I was not considered a senior, although I was a senior by credits and already knew I’d be graduating at the end of the year. I couldn’t participate in senior activities or get the senior jacket.

The hard part about graduating early is that I don’t fully belong to a particular senior class – or at least it doesn’t feel like I do. I don’t get the full experience of being a senior because I won’t be a student for a full senior year. But that’s kind of the whole point of graduating early as well. It’s about getting my degree as soon as possible and looking for a job or working on whatever it is that comes next.

If you think it might be possible for you to graduate early, keep in mind that the social experience of senior year won’t be the same for you as for your classmates. Senior year is stressful, though, and cutting that stress in half makes missing a few activities pretty worth it – at least to me.

So unless you definitely want to be in college for a full four years, putting in the effort to graduate early can be worth it. It’s a nice achievement to tell potential employers about, and it’s a good opportunity to save on tuition a little bit.

And if you need to graduate a semester later because you switched majors or weren’t able to take certain classes at the appropriate time, your experience will be similar to this as well. Either way, graduating and being done with college will feel like and be an amazing accomplishment.

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