Travel, changing major can be helpful for college experience

In-Focus Editor and In-Focus Editor

Marcus Sherrell gets to experience graduation every year, and he enjoys it every time.

“Graduation morning is one of my favorite days of the year in doing what I do, because it’s so rare that you gather all of these people together to celebrate achievement,” he said. “It’s one of those days that makes all of the all-nighters and cramming and everything else worthwhile.”

As associate dean of student services and enrollment management in the College of Arts and Sciences, it is part of Sherrell’s job to make sure students in the college reach this goal by keeping track of their progress before emergencies spring up in their education. There are many factors students must keep track of leading up to their graduation ceremony.

Sherrell said students should meet with advisers each semester and said the junior audit was a useful tool for planning the next semesters. The graduation check-in the semester before graduation is encouraged as well.

Difficulties that can arise include failing a class at the last minute as well as not meeting the minimum grade point average of 2.0 at the University, though Sherrell said some schools have a higher required GPA.

“Unfortunately, it does happen when a student might end up with a 1.999 GPA and that’s not a 2.0,” he said. “There’s nothing that can be done to make that a 2.0 except to take the class that raises the GPA to a 2.0.”

It is also encouraged for students to apply for graduation as soon as possible as opposed to a month before graduation. This way discrepancies can be addressed as soon as possible, Sherrell said.

Problems can arise for students who decide to stay longer, particularly if it is unexpected. Sherrell cited limited finances for tuition as well as apartment lease hassles.

Sherrell said that graduating in December as opposed to May can be tough on leases, because many are designed to run from fall through summer; he noted that there is a trend of students trying to sublease their apartments as they try to move out after graduation.

While these discrepancies hinder a students’ ability to graduate at the planned time, it is not always a bad thing to stay in college for more than four years.

Matt Webb, director of student and academic services in the College of Education and Human Development, said students can benefit from extra time in college as long as they take advantage of the opportunity for the right reasons.

Some advantages to slowing down the education process include taking on internships and co-ops, as well as traveling abroad, Webb said.

“[Traveling] may not help you graduate on time … but it will repay on the investment,” he said. “Usually … you can never travel internationally cheaper than a study abroad program, and it’s probably going to help you grow as a person in ways that you can’t measure even in the short term that will pay off for the rest of your life.”

Webb cited changing majors as a big reason students often stay longer and encourages students to do so, if they are positive they do not like their current major.

“The sooner a student can sort of realize where they’re headed, which degree is right for them, then the sooner they can forge the pathway to earning the degree that’s going to fit them best,” Webb said.

Skyler Rogers, a fifth year marketing and entrepreneurship senior who graduates in May, encountered a similar situation during his third year of college. He realized he was going to stay an extra year to experience internships and co-ops for different companies, going for some time without taking any classes.

“I’m much more prepared to be graduating now than I would have been a year ago,” Rogers said.

While Rogers’ five-year plan benefited him, he said there is no set time that is right for all individuals.

“I’ve had many friends that have graduated in three years, three and a half years, that have equally made the most of their college experience.”