Finances drive some to December graduation

More than 275 students, the largest number to date, were recognized at the December graduation ceremony Saturday afternoon in front of a packed Graham Chapel while friends and family watched live broadcasts of the ceremony in classrooms across campus.

The University continued in the traditional fashion and the grand marshal invited each student to the stage by name to shake hands with Chancellor Mark Wrighton, usually a procession reserved for the smaller graduation ceremony.

The growing number of students choosing to graduate in December raised questions about this trend’s contributing factors. With an estimated cost of attendance nearing $34,000 per semester, students can save money by graduating early.

According to Student Life’s socioeconomic survey released earlier this year, 5.50 percent of all respondents planned on graduating early for financial reasons.

Shannon Dowling, who graduated on Saturday, said that finances were her main motivation for early graduation.

“I graduated early to save money. My little sister is starting college in the fall and my parents are paying for both of us, so it just seemed to make sense to graduate in December,” Dowling said.

While some students graduated because of financial considerations, 3.11 percent of students responded in the socioeconomic survey that they plan on graduating early for job opportunities.

Senior Lena Trager said that for some students, especially those seeking admission to medical school, early graduation might be used as a way to avoid taking a full gap year after graduation.

“For pre-meds it might be nice to have more time off before entering medical school,” Trager said.

Dowling echoed Trager’s sentiments.

“I am not sure why more people graduated in December this year,” Dowling said. “I think some people had some really amazing job opportunities, whereas other people were in the same boat as me and wanted to save money.”

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Alex Siegman