On the Hill

Students graduate early to stand out, find careers

Just as students look to stand out during the college application process, college students are doing what they can to stand out to future employers. For many, this means graduating early.

In the past 10 to 20 years, Syracuse University has seen a notable increase in the amount of students who decide to graduate a semester early in hopes of entering the job market as soon as possible, said Michael Cahill, director of SU Career Services.

Cahill often works with students to help address their concerns about starting to search for a job.

“We try to help them weigh their options,” he said. “People often put a high premium on the college experience, so the decision to graduate early is on a case-to-case basis.”

Graduating early allows students more time to search for jobs, Cahill said, and employers will notice these students are academically prepared to begin working immediately.

Ultimately, the decision hinges on the needs and wants of the student. Students could use the final semester to pick up a minor or gain hands-on experience, but if they graduate early, they can get a jump start, Cahill said.

As enrollment in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes increases, he said, more students have transfer credits that can help them graduate in December, or even earlier in some cases.

Susan Kim, a junior biophysics and biochemistry major on the pre-med track, is graduating a full year early.

“There weren’t a lot of external factors,” Kim said. “I just saw that I had enough credits and thought it would be a good idea to take a gap year to do an internship or something that I really love instead of staying in school.”

Kim plans to work for a drug development company, located in Seattle, in order to build her resume and figure out what path to take in medical school. She said she will walk in the commencement ceremony in May with the graduating seniors.

“I love college, but I am just ready to go on with the rest of my life,” Kim said.

Many students who contemplate graduating early consider if they will be able to come back and walk in the ceremony. SU currently does not hold a December graduation ceremony.

In the past, SU held both winter and spring graduation ceremonies. However, in 1952, the December ceremony ended, said Susan Germain, executive director of the Office of Special Events, in an email.

Senior television, radio and film major Leslie Berkowitz is graduating early in the hopes of beating the application rush in the spring. She said in an email that she has a few friends in her major that also plan to graduate early.

“I’m coming back to graduate in May,” Berkowitz said. “I think it’s important to walk with my friends and be recognized as part of the group. It’d be nice if there was a December ceremony, but I would probably have come back in May regardless.”

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