December graduates look to the future

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Daniel Walsh | Senior Staff Illustrator

By Ashton Crawley, Staff Writer

The culmination of every student’s college career and hard work is graduation. For Pitt seniors graduating in December, with the holidays around the corner and many of their peers making schedules for the spring, the experience is a little different.

Pitt’s main graduation happens at the end of the spring semester, though there are some seniors who opt to graduate at the end of the fall semester in smaller ceremonies. These include the optional main fall graduation ceremony for all of Pitt’s schools, held on Sunday, Dec. 15, in Soldiers and Sailors this year, as well as individual graduation ceremonies for certain departments.

Steven Roth, a senior studying mechanical engineering, attended a small graduation ceremony only for mechanical engineers on Sunday morning at Carnegie Music Hall. Roth is graduating a semester later than the rest of his class because he completed a co-op, a common practice for engineers.

Graduating in the fall semester is a bit different from graduating in the spring, according to Roth.

“Obviously, it’s smaller. I guess it almost feels like less of a big deal,” Roth said. “There are people you start freshman year with that you assume you’re going to graduate senior year with. So you see them finish first. But a lot of my friends did co-ops too so I’ll be graduating with them,” Roth said.

Like spring graduates, December graduates must also balance finishing their degrees with searching for jobs. Unlike spring graduates, they must coordinate their searches around the holiday season.

“You have to work around holidays for scheduling. I had job interviews this past week, it was a very busy few days,” Roth said.

However, some feel that graduating in the fall is actually less hectic. Emmy Rogers, a senior studying anthropology, is glad she’s graduating in the fall instead of the spring. It has always been part of her plan to graduate at this time because she started at Pitt a semester late.

“I’m excited to be done with undergrad. It’s also the dichotomy of being excited to graduate and then ‘being in the real world.’ But I’m nervous for the future,” Rogers said.

Saving money on tuition is a big motivation for many students to graduate early, especially those from out of state. Sumi Shah, a senior studying human resources management in the school of business, is graduating a semester early after completing her credit requirements. 

“I didn’t necessarily come into college thinking that I would graduate a semester early. But as the semesters went on, I realized I had the ability to,” Shah said.

One of the benefits of graduating early is having more of a break before launching into a full time career, Shah said.

“Do I wish that I was entering the job market in the spring? Not really. Honestly, I think a solid break is good. If I were to have graduated in the spring, I just would not have had the break that I needed between college and entering the workforce,” Shah said. 

Like many students graduating this semester, Shah will continue to live in the Oakland area for a period of time.

“I’m most excited because I still get a few more months with my friends in Pittsburgh before I have to move for my full time job in June. I think I’d be a lot more sad about it if I had to just graduate and leave right away,” Shah said.

Rogers, who works for Pitt doing qualitative data analysis programming, plans to extend her job from part-time to full-time in the upcoming months. Although she has fond memories of her college years, she is ready to move on.

“Aside from work, I’m not setting foot in Oakland. I don’t want to see a 10A for the rest of my life,” Rogers said.

Rogers said she is also ready to focus on work instead of school.

“I’m looking forward to not having consistent deadlines. It’s different going to work versus going to school,” Rogers said. “It’s this weird mix. You have finals, graduation, Christmas, New Year’s.”

Rogers said there are benefits to graduating in the winter as opposed to the spring, especially for those who don’t enjoy the spotlight very much. She’s a fan of the smaller size of the December graduation ceremony as opposed to the large commencement ceremony in the spring.

“I kind of like it because I get overwhelmed and it’s not going to be a big production. I think it’s kind of positive,” Rogers said. “For some reason, at the end of the spring semester, because everyone’s getting done and everyone has summer break, it’s like a unified exhale. But I’m working towards this end goal.’”

According to Shah, many students in the business school end up graduating early.

“Usually the full time jobs don’t start until May or June. So I think just having those few extra months here, without the stress of college classes and tests and all of that is what’s really motivating people to be happy about it,” Shah said.

The period after graduation can be an uncertain time for students. Shah said that this can be a good time to figure things out for yourself.

“It took so long to finally get comfortable here and then you have to leave. So I think the biggest thing about graduating early is kind of overcoming that uncertainty and making peace with it before jumping into something new,” Shah said.

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