Marist College seniors have yet another bittersweet milestone fast-approaching: in just over a week, they will be registering for classes for the final time.
Sure, it’ll be nice to know that this is the last time they’ll have to get up at the crack of dawn and cross their fingers that FoxNet doesn’t give out, only to have to run around campus to get override approval from four different faculty members regardless. But while they revel over the finality of this most-dreaded process, seniors will be reminded that they are one step closer to graduating – and that doesn’t exactly sit well for many of them.
In fact, there is a trend at Marist that has a lot to do with the registration process: several seniors have limited to no requirements left and could theoretically graduate in December but are choosing not to.
So why stick around for one more semester when they don’t have to? For a host of reasons, of course, but mostly because they are not yet ready to leave the ‘Marist Bubble’ – the safe-zone that protects them from the responsibilities of the real world and creates an environment where having fun is the main priority.
“I get the impression that none of my seniors want to graduate,” said Assistant Professor of Journalism Dr. Ryan Rogers. “They all kind of want to keep the lifestyle going and are really happy here and are kind of sad to see it end.
“I actually just had a student in here a moment ago who’s a first-year but she has come in with so many credits, she has the option to graduate early, even at this juncture. We were talking a lot about that and how she’s not sure she wants to miss this opportunity because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing to be in college – to be an undergrad, and to celebrate with your friends and be with your friends and explore things intellectually that you might not be able to otherwise.”
As an advisor to many seniors, Rogers shared his observations as to what his advisees do during their last semester when they choose to stay at Marist rather than graduate early.
“There are plenty of students who have the option but they don’t seem too keen on it,” Rogers said. “There’s a handful of students who either need a couple of credits but are done with their required courses so they’re just filling up classes that sound fun to them, or they’re taking an internship and filling in electives around it that sound interesting. I’ve seen a bit of that for sure.”
The maximum number of credits an undergraduate student can take in a semester is 16, but the floor is 12 – if a student takes anything less than that, he/she is no longer considered full-time, and that can affect things such as financial aid and housing. Usually those who have met all degree requirements but are reluctant to graduate early will take the minimum, and some even cover the full 12-credit requirement with internship credit.
Gerald McNulty, director of the Communication & Media Studies Internship Program at Marist, actually granted a student special permission to go above the 14-credit allowance per semester last year. It’s not common, he said, and he personally does not see many seniors delay their graduation per year, but he acknowledged that it has been done.
“I certainly see students who are reluctant to leave the campus environment, for sure,” McNulty said. “In very small numbers, I’ll see some students who quite clearly could have finished and seem reluctant to take a full load and then suddenly they’re back and they’re saying ‘I’m gonna work here in the summer and I’ll be back in September’ and you kind of look at the audit and you think ‘she doesn’t have to come back here.’
“The heat’s on, the electricity’s on, the cafeteria is operating, so you’ve got a lot of bases covered, so to speak. Once they go off and graduate and go out the door, they know full well they have to get a job and pay the rent and so on.”
Fear of the unknown and delay of the inevitable are not the only reasons why Marist students choose to stick around until May. Some do it because they can better posture themselves for post-undergraduate success. One such student is Madeline Heusted, a senior studying Human Resources who came to college with enough credits that she knew all along the option to graduate early would be there.
With all of her degree requirements out of the way, she could easily leave Marist in December. Instead, she will be back in the spring to fulfill an entirely different curriculum that she hopes will result in securing her dream job.
“I’m pursuing a paralegal certificate because I want to work in human resources where law is a relevant part of the work,” she said. “Hopefully it will help me get a job in that area. It’s cool how it worked out that way because I’ve always been interested in law, so now I get to focus mostly on that in my last semester.”
Martin Heck, a junior studying psychology, is in a similar situation, however he is eligible to graduate a full year early if he so chooses. Having fulfilled just about every required Core class with the credits he came in with, his psych curriculum will be complete after the spring semester.
“I want to bulk up my grad school resume through fieldwork and research,” Heck said. “I’ve also been a teaching assistant for the past year so I want to keep doing that. I really don’t have a lot left to take, so I’m looking for an internship and I’ll also take some electives next fall.”
With registration right around the corner, it’s a safe bet that many juniors and seniors alike will be declaring extra minors or signing up for several electives so they can stick around for a few more months.
Only 202 days until graduation.