Students debate graduating in more than four years


By Mary Beth Versaci

Over winter break, Steve Granda mapped out the classes he still needs to take for his degree in Computer Engineering. With registration in mind, he weighed his options after hearing from various friends who lost job offers because of the economy.

Granda said this was when he came to the conclusion he would not graduate in four years.

“I knew I’d be staying at least an extra semester for economic reasons,” he said. “With friends losing offers, I might as well be on the safe side.”

The junior in Engineering said he also wanted to spread out his classes so he would not be taking three or four electrical and computer engineering classes at the same time. He said the department often tells students not to try to graduate too fast.

Sarah McDougal, adviser in electrical and computer engineering, said some people dilute the curriculum with other classes because of its difficulty. This allows students to work on their grade point averages by taking fewer classes.

“Nine semesters is the average graduation time for engineering students,” McDougal said.

She added that students might also graduate later because of internships, research, study abroad trips or minors.

“Mostly I tell (students) that four years is an artificial deadline,” McDougal said. “They should concentrate on becoming excellent engineers rather than graduating on time.”

“The more they learn, the better off they are,” she added.

Chris Cosat, community health adviser, said a majority of students within this major graduate in four years.

“Those who take longer usually transferred (from other colleges),” he said.

For community health students who think they may need more than four years to get their degree, Cosat said he advises them to take general education requirements over the summer.

“I recommend to students, especially in our program of study, to look at their community college or institutions closer to home,” he said. “Find a gen. ed. that would transfer, and take core degree requirements at the University.”

David Lange, civil and environmental engineering adviser, said that about a third of students within that major go on for a master’s degree.

“Some may think they need to get out in the work world as soon as possible, but they’re going to be in the work world for a long time,” Lange said.

Although he has already received two job offers, Granda said he is considering going to graduate school. At the same time, he said he is enjoying spending time locally with his family before eventually moving to the coast – where many engineering companies are located.

“Deferring graduation lets you stay a little longer and be with family,” Granda said.