Numbers show on-time graduation is a pipe dream for most college students
They’re called “4-year universities” for a reason, right? Then why are more and more students finding it takes them five, six, sometimes seven years to earn their bachelor’s degree? Worse, many students aren’t even making it to graduation day.
From the start, students are set on a path to earn their degree in at least five years from the advice of their counselors. Since many financial aid and grant programs only cover the cost of 12 credit hours per semester, it seems like good advice – until you realize students need to be taking a minimum of 15 credits per semester in order to graduate inside of four years. Add in a change of major, a loss of credits from a community college transfer, a scarcity of available classes, a choice to gain a minor or double major, and a graduation date in less than six years becomes a pipe dream.
When it’s time to graduate, while you’re sitting there sweating through your academic robes in the summer sun, you’ll start to listen to the names of your class (or department, depending on how your school does it), anticipating friends’ names so you can cheer a little louder.
The odds are pretty good that you won’t hear at least one name you expect to. Some people just plain don’t want to walk.
While the majority of you probably wouldn’t even consider skipping, a number of your classmates have no interest whatsoever in attending graduation. A few of them might even take off as soon as finals are complete. Justifications will vary. Some will say they’re just sick of school and can’t wait to get out of here. Some will be taking off out of obligation to their vacation plans (that they easily could’ve scheduled later in the first place). But whatever the argument, the people who don’t want to walk simply don’t see much value in pomp and circumstance.
Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech to the graduates of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, embedded above, is, much like his books, charming, enjoyable, and full of lots of legitimately good insight. Listen to the whole thing if you’ve got the time, but if not, at least read the best part, transcribed below. (In the clip, the below quote begins at 14:06.)
It’s March, so those of you on the cusp of graduation are probably starting to get bombarded with advice on how to land your first “real” job.
“’Starting to’?” a lot of you are saying incredulously. “I’m a liberal arts major. I’ve been getting nagged about that for four years!”