Students graduating early don't skimp on workload

By Sidney Ainkorn

Twenty-six Macalester students will graduate this December. Some are taking an extra semester to complete their requirements, but most are graduating a semester early.To graduate early, students must fulfill the same requirements of students who plan to graduate in the spring. Students who enter Macalester with Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credits and take finish their course requirements early often find themselves in the position to graduate in December.

Many early graduates challenge themselves with double majors in their shortened college careers. Hiroyuki Miyake is an Economics and Mathematics double major and Xiaobo Ke is an Economics and Chemistry double major with a Biology minor.

The decision to leave a semester early is not always easy. A commonly cited motivation for the decision is the desire to save money.

“Because tuition isn’t exactly cheap, my parents said, ‘Well if you can do this, please do it,'” said Diana Petty.

“Essentially for me it was just a practical decision,” said Meredith Wisniewski, adding that she hopes to save money on loans and plans to “get ahead start on the job market.”

Matt Stone ’08, a former Mac Weekly editor, graduated last December and immediately started work at a newspaper in Maine. He said that he decided to graduate early because he was ready to start a career.

“I was sure of what I wanted to do after Mac and I had the opportunity to do it a semester earlier,” Stone said.

With the country now officially in a recession, this year’s December graduates may find themselves facing a much tougher job market than in past years.

“You’ve got to cast your net pretty wide,” Wisniewski said.

Ke wants to find a job and start paying back student loans, but he said that it has been difficult finding job openings in the current economy.

Not everyone plans to leave school and start work right away.

“From elementary school to middle school to high school to college I was just constantly working,” said Miyake, who could not study abroad because he was an international student. He now plans to graduate early to travel on his own.

“I think, for most of us anyway, college is a four-year commitment,” he said. “It’s just that because I can’t go abroad through Macalester, I want to take some time off at the end.”

Leaving Mac does not always mean leaving the area. Petty plans to stay in the Twin Cities and find an internship or job.

“The fact that I’m not up and leaving I think hasn’t made it too big of an issue,” she said. “I’m definitely planning on being low key next semester. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself to really figure out my whole life.”

Petty said that she wants to be around for the graduation ceremony and Senior Week. December graduates can walk with the rest of their class in the formal graduation. They are also invited to a dinner with President Rosenberg before they leave.

No matter what direction they are planning to take after Macalester, those who are graduating early seem sure of their choice.

“It is a bit sad that my last semester in college is full of work,” Ke said, but he added, “when everything is done, I will feel a great relief.”

“I’m feeling very happy with [the decision],” Petty said. “I’m ready to be done. Three-and-a-half years were enough for me.