Column: Graduating early not quite out of the norm

By Kristin Maiorano

Similar to about a quarter of the undergrads on campus, I’ll be spending this semester deciding whether to get a job or a master’s degree, figuring out how the heck I get a cap and gown and trying to check off all the items on that list of things to do before you graduate. Unlike most of my fellow graduates, however, I’m only 20. I guess you could say I’m on the fast track to being a grown-up, graduating after only three years of college.

I’m sure half of the people reading this column are thinking I’m ambitious – and the other half are thinking I’m simply crazy. Well, I can relate. There are days when I ask myself, “What am I doing?” and prepare to change my whole life to be more like a “normal” college student, only to realize I already notified the University of my intent to graduate.

Most of the time, though, I’m excited. I’m one of those lucky people who has chosen a career that for me is more fun than work. I can’t wait to get out into the world of TV journalism and all the wonderful things that go with it, like exposing corrupt politicians or… going to city council meetings.

OK, so even the coolest jobs have some boring aspects. But doesn’t everything? You could tell me that by leaving college a year “early” I’m missing out on late night partying, lack of obligation, and money from my parents for food and shelter. But aren’t I also leaving behind the late night studying, lack of compensation, and relying on my parents for food and shelter? (Of course, there’s always grad school.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is, four years in college doesn’t necessarily have to be the norm. For me, the last several years of my life have built up to this. Apparently Advanced Placement classes are actually worth something. And while I put myself on the fast track, I was ready for it; I haven’t spent the last seven years in a hole with a stack of books. I’ve had a life – a pretty awesome one. And the fact is, after I graduate in May, I’ll still have a life. Sure, it’ll probably be different from the average 20-year-old. Instead of finishing up my gen eds, I’ll be out with a “real” job, or working on a master’s degree. But that’s the path my life has taken, and I wouldn’t change a thing. The way I see it, I’m just taking a step forward. I’m still playing the video game of life, just moving on to the next level.