Senior Rachel Aaronson will not attend an elaborate Commencement ceremony when she graduates from GW. Aaronson and 150 of her classmates plan to graduate this month, a semester early.
There are 151 students out of a class of 2,566 who have applied to graduate a semester early, according to the University’s Office of Institutional Research. Last year, 92 students applied for early graduation and 89 were able to earn their credits to do so.
“I think graduating early is good in a sense if you are going to be staying in D.C.,” said Aaronson, who has been offered a job in the area. “It enables you to get a head start on the job hunt and it saves you an entire semester worth of tuition.”
Aaronson said she is able to graduate early because she entered college with 14 Advanced Placement credits, college credits earned from courses she took in high school. She added that she was able to finish her major, human services, after the second semester of her junior year. She is enrolled as a part-time student this semester to acquire the last nine credits she needs to graduate.
Paul Duff, associate dean of undergraduate studies for the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, noted the “cost of a college education” as a reason why students choose to graduate early. He added that there is “no special approval process that students need to go through” in the CCAS as long as a student has completed his or her course requirements and has applied for graduation.
Irene Honey, director of GW Career Education and Employer Development, also said students may choose to graduate early to decrease tuition expenses.
“I believe if students are actually choosing to graduate early it is to enter the workforce and reduce expense of college tuition.” Honey said.
Anthony Arcieri, assistant director for Career Education and Employer Development, said he does not believe there is much benefit to graduating early when it comes to securing a job.
“It’s strictly an academic and personal decision,” Arcieri wrote in an e-mail. “I wouldn’t make a decision to graduate early based solely on the perception that it will be easier to find a job.”
Arcieri added, however, that there is less competition for entry-level positions in December than in May.
Many students who would be able to graduate a semester early may choose to work, study abroad or pursue double majors instead of graduating early.
Students who graduate a semester early can participate in graduation ceremonies in the spring.