December graduates return for Commencement

After GW’s Commencement ceremony on the National Mall on Sunday, graduates will begin their post-collegiate lives in the real world – finding both a job and a place to live outside the borders of the University’s campus.

But for seniors who graduated in December, the transition from student to full-time member of the work force has already happened. And for some, it wasn’t completely seamless.

“When finals ended in December I spent what seemed like a majority of my day looking for a job,” said Kristen Langstine, who graduated after the fall semester. “I hoped that finishing early would give me a jump on the job search [but] I did not receive an offer until April.”

According to GW’s Department of Institutional Research, there were 247 early graduates in the class of 2009, and 287 in the class of 2008. No numbers are available yet for the class of 2010, but number of early graduates has held fairly steady for the past several years, according to IR data.

Like Langstine, many early graduates were hoping to get a leg up on competition in the market, especially with the current lack of job creation and high unemployment rates.

“I thought I would have an advantage entering the job market at a different time rather than with the influx of other graduates in June,” said AJ DeWerd, an English major who graduated in December.

After finishing up her final classes at GW, DeWerd landed a job at a publishing house in New York. She also started taking graduate school classes at New York University, where she is pursuing her master’s of science in publishing.

Even amidst job hunting, Langstine said she enjoyed being able to hang out with her family after returning home from school. The break following her finals and graduation provided her with time to relax for a little bit.

“I hadn’t been home for an extended period of time since the summer after my freshman year,” she said.

Unlike Langstine, who visited campus twice during the spring semester, early graduate Seth Gordon-Lipkin has been living and working in D.C. and managed to regularly see friends who are still in school.

“I’ve been close enough to stay in touch with all my friends from GW,” he said. “But it is a little weird to come back to campus and hang out with everyone. It’s a weird dichotomy.”

For Gordon-Lipkin, the main motivation behind graduating early was to save his family money.

“To put it simply, GW’s tuition is too high,” he said.

Langstine and DeWerd also cited tuition costs as a large factor in their decisions to graduate in the fall.

“By graduating a semester early, I saved some money for grad school,” DeWerd said.

To fulfill requirements and earn enough credits, DeWerd took classes abroad the summer between her sophomore and junior years. Langstine said the Advanced Placement credits earned in high school helped her finish her degree a semester early.

While all three seniors are busy with jobs and their lives beyond college, they are all planning on coming back to GW to participate in the Commencement ceremony on the National Mall. For all three of them, the ceremony is a rite of passage they found important to take part in.

“I graduated, but I wanted my family to be there, and I wanted to be with all my friends,” Gordon-Lipkin said. “I never considered missing it.”

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