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Graduating early offers more benefits than drawbacks

Published: November 22, 2013
Section: Opinions


When people ask what school year I’m in, I’m left deciding between senior year and senior semester. I usually go with the route of senior year out of ease, but if I am particularly in the mood to converse, will add on a quick, “But I graduate in December.” Typically I am met with the confused response of “Why?” As in why would you ever want to leave early? I understand this lack of comprehension completely.

I am aware that the college lifestyle that we have become accustomed to is, in all likelihood, much simpler than what follows. What follows is the complexity of real life encounters—deciding where you want to live, meeting new people in a new town and finding a job among other personal responsibilities. If only a GPS for life navigation existed, then the future wouldn’t be quite as ambiguous. Trust me, in deciding to graduate early, I have been cherishing (almost) every day in college.

After all, Brandeis has everything from friends, food, parties, classes and a recently-opened Dunkin’ Donuts, all within less than a square mile. Personal responsibilities consist of laundry, school work and far too frequent Ramen noodles. The joys of college. So why force the best four years of your life, to condense into the best 3.5, you ask? Well, for those of us graduating early, we know there are benefits to doing so, and not just downsides.

Regardless of whether you are graduating early or not, emotions ranging from excited to straight-up terrified are relevant to the perceived next step of entering the “real world.” We early graduates just encounter the full force of these emotions, and the inevitable “What are you doing after college?” questions a bit earlier. Even if you have a job set, you still do not know where life will take you and that can be a bit scary. Is anyone ready to handle taxes and other such expenses? Me neither. However, by graduating a semester early and throwing yourself into “real life,” you are forced to adapt, and perhaps pick up some life skills before the rest of your class even graduates.

In addition, with college prices so high, there is some appeal in the form of thousands of dollars saved in graduating as quickly as you can. An increasing number of students are doing so for financial reasons. Some even go the route of community college for the first two years to save even more money. With the unjustifiably high prices of college, very few go through college without feeling any financial strain. Sure, some may argue, you sacrifice experiences that are priceless, but in reality, thousands of dollars and dreaded loans are a good enough reason to think twice about that final semester.

Even if you are lucky enough to be able to afford to take that eighth semester of classes with financial ease, there are still benefits in finishing early. While your friends are planning on how late they can sleep to before class, while still having enough time to get an Einstein’s bagel, you are able to plan ahead for your future. Being done in December means you can pursue internships, travel and take on other opportunities you may not have considered or may not have had time to complete. Since the job market is particularly challenging, having a semester to gain additional experience can put you ahead of the competition. Internships can also turn into jobs if you are able to demonstrate to your employer how your wonderful Brandeis education and talents seamlessly combine to make you perfect for the position.

You could even take the route of applying to jobs right away, if you feel ready and have the credentials. In doing so, you would be up against far fewer people from your class for positions, as most people graduate in May and begin work in the fall. This can be a challenge because you may find your last semester of college is filled with perfecting your resume, working on that cumbersome cover letter and completing other tasks while managing school work and trying to socialize. In this job market though, where unemployment is high and many college grads work unskilled jobs, the procrastination talents you built up in school no longer serve a purpose. The hard work you put in will pay off.

While graduating early may make you feel like the guinea pig among your friends, you may just find yourself learning more about life than you ever could from that textbook you forgot to return.