By Tiffany Coelho | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was only recently I realized this will be my final year as an undergraduate student here at Flagler College. It feels impossible that this coming April, I will be graduating college in only three years.
My impending graduation is surreal to me, it seems like I was just graduating high school not too long ago. Back when I was in high school, I worried about graduating on time and in the top ten in my class. I took as many Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment (DE) classes as possible to reach those goals.
AP and DE credits were transferred over when I became a freshman at Flagler College, and it turns out that I had enough credits to graduate earlier than my classmates I started with in 2015. At first, I didn’t really tell anyone I would be graduating early because I didn’t fully understand how my credits would fall. I knew nothing about graduating early, or what any of it entailed when I was a freshman.
For the first year and a half I spent at Flagler, I was figuring out my major and minor to see if only three years would truly give me enough time to complete all my requirements. Last semester, it became clear to me that I would be able to graduate in only three years.
The idea of graduating early was no surprise to me or my family. They had been the ones to encourage me to take those AP and DE classes that got me in this situation. I had the right amount of credits and graduating early just seemed like the logical choice. We didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
But when I started telling people, namely my friends and professors, I received many unhappy responses. Many of my friends were mad to see me leave them so early and not spend our final year together. They believed that the experience we would’ve had in that year was important. Some professors were slightly sad to see me go so early, while most of them had strong negative feelings towards me graduating early. Many told me that I should stay to have the “full four-year experience” that college provides.
They all acted like I would be missing out on a part of my life that I couldn’t get back. Their apprehension got me thinking about the real reasons I was graduating early.
First off, by the time I graduate, I will have more than enough credits for my English major and women’s studies minor. If I were to graduate a semester or a year later, then I would have to add a major or minor. There is no major or minor that Flagler offers that I would ever consider adding on. It’s not like I have only been taking English and women’s studies classes this entire time. I believe I had a truly well-rounded liberal arts education. I came in wanting an English major and a women’s studies minor and I only need three years here to get that job done.
I would be lying if I said money wasn’t a huge reason for shaving a whole year off of my college experience. The second I was 100 percent sure I would be graduating a whole year early, I told my parents, and they were ecstatic. College is expensive and the loans most people are forced to take out are insanely steep. Graduating in three instead of four years took some of our perceived debt off our shoulders. Why spend an exuberant amount of money on a year of schooling I don’t truly need?
Everyone’s reasoning behind their opinion of not wanting me to graduate early was because of the experiences I would miss. Three years in a college town is enough time to get as much collegiate experience as possible for me. I’m still going to have great experiences once I graduate from outside of college. They might not be the quintessential college experiences that all my friends will be having, but they will still be unique and exciting. I might move to a completely different state for work, or graduate school. Outside of college, I’m still getting amazing experiences ahead of some of my fellow classmates. I am ready for them.
It still hasn’t set in yet that this is my final year at Flagler, but I know graduating early will be the right choice for me.