Early graduates share college experience advice

By Lena Brockway, Contributing Writer

A typical college student usually graduates with a bachelor’s degree after four academic years. However, some students consider finishing their education on an earlier schedule.

Sara Kizziar, senior in ACES, had the opportunity to get ahead in college with dual credits, allowing her to graduate early.

“They advertised that it could save you some money in college further down the road, instead of having to take other gen eds that you needed to fill up the credit hours and whatnot,” Kizziar said.

Kizziar recalled that she didn’t know about the option until she talked about credits with her adviser.

“It wasn’t until two semesters ago, as I was filling out my schedule for spring of last year, as I was talking with my adviser, (she said), ‘Oh, you could graduate early if you wanted to.’ And I said, ‘Wait, I can?’” Kizziar said.

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Kizziar’s transfer and overloaded credit hours put her above the minimum graduation requirements, allowing her to decide to graduate earlier.

Some students don’t initially plan for their transferable credits to turn into the possibility of graduating early. According to Niki Sodetz, senior in LAS, it happened later down the road.

Sodetz said her plan to graduate early was never something she had originally anticipated, especially with the pandemic.

“Ultimately, I, on accident, fast-tracked my way through school,” Sodetz said. “I think it was the hours that I took, and I hadn’t really anticipated being done early. So it wasn’t something that I had honestly thought about. I just looked at my audit and realized that I was going to be done earlier than I had anticipated.”

For Sodetz, graduating early enabled her to get a head start on her career.

“My path is a little bit different because my peers will be graduating in May, but I’ll be done in just a couple of weeks,” Sodetz said. “So, hopefully, for that second semester that I would have been in school, I’ll be doing a postgraduate internship.”

Sodetz’s other main concern about graduating early is that she won’t be able to graduate with her friends.

“I obviously don’t get to finish out school with my friends, which was difficult,” Sodetz said. “It was definitely a big factor in determining whether or not I wanted to graduate. I’ll likely have to move away.”

Monica Moy, senior in AHS, decided to take the alternative route of studying abroad in her last semester. She will also have an untraditional graduation.

“It turns out studying abroad spring semester of my senior year could potentially delay when I graduate,” Moy said. “So I definitely wouldn’t be able to walk at graduation with everyone else I know.”

Moy originally got the idea of graduating early when talking to her adviser. Her extra credit hours earned by AP tests in high school took her closer to the required credits for graduation, meaning she had some free time on her hands.

“I figured if I could graduate early, why not do it?” Moy said. “It would mean that I get to save money, and that’s always fun.”

Moy said her family has supported her decision.

“My parents were really supportive of me potentially studying abroad because they agreed that it would be a valuable, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Moy said.

Sodetz echoed Moy’s experience, recalling the support from others around her.

“When I tell people that, they always have a very positive reaction actually,” Sodetz said. “I think people associate, sometimes, graduating early with (how) you worked really, really hard.”

Kizziar advised students to consider graduating early but not to overthink it.

“If it’s a possibility, then they should go for it. Absolutely. But it’s not a necessity,” Kizziar said.

To those wanting to graduate early, Kizziar suggested planning carefully.

“If you’re hoping to graduate early, then planning out your future semesters is extremely helpful,” Kizziar said. “One of my classes made me do this, and it really helped to put everything into perspective.”