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Early graduation saves money, time

Story by Avery Gregurich

In the the early spring of senior year, senioritis hits some students like a bomb. There is no medication for it no matter what they do, longing only to finally be a college student. They are prepared for four years of parties, experiences, travel and a few classes — only if there’s time, though.

That idea is the only thing keeping them from succumbing to the gruesome claws of senioritis. For other college bound freshmen, though, the scene is a little bit different.

Instead of the status quo of four years of college, some students are looking to do college a little bit differently: drive-thru style.

Senior magazine journalism major Sarah Sager will graduate this December after only three-and-a-half years on Drake University’s campus. How did she do it so quickly? Sager was able to complete many of her AOI requirements while she was still in high school by taking classes at a community college. This allowed her to “roll into my major” once she actually got to school. Unsurprisingly, money was the main reason for Sager’s sprint through the curriculum.

“When you see how much you have to take out in loans every year, taking more out doesn’t feel responsible,” Sager said.

She also believes the job market will be a little less intense in the winter because there are “not necessarily as many people graduating at that time.” Sager feels that college is just something you have to get through, having no regrets about leaving a semester early.

“(There’s) no reason to stay unless you want to stay. Once you get everything you want from your university, you got to cut the strings. Like your parents,” Sager said.

Money was also the main reason for junior public relations and politics major Kayla Day to take the route to graduating early, along with the convenient timing.

“Graduating early will save me over $15,000,” Day said. “By the time I graduate (in the fall 2014 semester), it will be right as candidates get ready for the 2016 election.”

It has also been a constant source of inspiration.

“I’ve always wanted to try to graduate early as a way to challenge myself and stay focused on schoolwork,” Day said.

Like Sager, Day was able to bring in a substantial number of college credits from her high school days, which have allowed her to pursue this track. Upon graduation, Day doesn’t plan to leave the Des Moines area. She plans to continue living in the house close to campus that she currently resides in. This means that while she won’t officially be a student, she will still be around to enjoy the lively college atomsphere. Day mirrors Sager’s sentiments about graduating early.

“I would definitely recommend graduating early to anyone who has the opportunity to, especially for those worried about money,” Sager said.

Cassandra White’s path to early graduation is fueled by her self-described “independence.” The sophomore health sciences major will be here for a total of three years until she walks away with a diploma. Of course, she made the decision with finances in mind. The decision was a no- brainer for White, saying, “I’m not paying for an extra year of tuition and will be making a real salary one year earlier.”

White only brought 10 credits with her into Drake, so her path is different from the precedent set by Sager and Day. She is instead taking summer classes along with her fall and spring courses. This sounds like a obstacle, but White feels the addition is not too strenuous of a workload.

She describes the summer courses as “easy to keep up with”, mostly because she has only one or two to focus on at a time. As far as her courses during the traditional school year are concerned, White doesn’t see her schedule as being especially full.

“I know people who are taking more credits per semester than I am,” White said.

Assistant to the Dean of Journalism and Mass Communication Carla McCrea understands why some students choose to take a “drive-thru” approach to the Drake curriculum.

She feels that the less graduate heavy winter job market is “different by looking at just the numbers.” McCrea said the School of Journalism and Mass Communication has  few students who plan to graduate early, and while those who do might “miss out on some of the Drake experiences”, they do not miss out on the school’s curriculum. She also understands both sides of the issue, saying there are “pros and cons.”

“In this economy one less semester of tuition is very important to some students,” McCrea said. “On the other side, many students need the full four years to figure out who they are and the path they want to pursue next.”

McCrea said she feels that it’s not the amount of time that students are on Drake’s campus that matters, however.

“The key is what you take with you from Drake in the time you are here,” McCrea said.

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