December graduates get a jump on the job market

By Aileen Ryan / Staff Writer

For Pitt alumna Brittney Ferrone, graduating early saved her thousands of dollars and allowed her enter the job market early. 

Ferrone, who majored in rehabilitation science, graduated a semester early in December 2013. It was easier to acquire a job, she said, because she wasn’t competing with her peers with a remaining semester.

“Graduating early was extremely beneficial because I was able to gain experience prior to starting graduate school and be sure that this was the career path I wanted to pursue,”  Ferrone said.

Students are now finding ways to graduate early through heavier courseloads or summer semesters, in order to save money and start their careers earlier than their peers. Students who graduate from Pitt early can save up to $13,643 for a semester or $27,268 for an academic year, the School of Arts and Science’s out of state tution for one semester and two semesters respectively, and get a jump on the competitive job market students enter upon graduation. 

Graduating early is not possible for everyone, and, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s most recent college data, Pitt’s four-year graduation rate is 64 percent. 

An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York studied the effect of the current  job market, and by examining unemployment rates, found graduates today encounter more difficulty transitioning into the job market than their counterparts in the past two decades. As a result, graduates are “accepting jobs for which they are overqualified, low-wage jobs or part-time work”. While overall U.S. unemployment has improved to a five-year low, construction and architecture, liberal arts and social science majors had unemployment rates of roughly seven to eight percent. Health care and education graduates experienced lower unemployment, of roughly three to four percent, respectively. 

By graduating early, students hope to cut down on their student loans and have a timelier advantage than the rest of their peers.

Despite the benefits of graduating early, Ferrone missed some of the perks — free bus fare or access to University gyms ­— that come with being a Pitt student.

“It was also hard to start working full-time when my friends were slacking off during their last semester,” she said.

Although seemingly small, these perks can save students money. According to Pittsburgh Port Authority’s website, the fare to ride Port Authority buses varies from $2.50 to $3.75, while an annual bus pass for unlimited rides costs $1,072.50. For LA Fitness, standard membership is $29.95 a month after a $99 initiation fee. 

Pitt students who graduate early can participate in a ceremony in December. This ceremony, however, is not offered to students who graduate in August and may instead attend the April commencement ceremony. 

Sara Sitler, who majored in communication rhetoric and psychology, attended and enjoyed walking the stage and hearing her name called at the ceremony in December 2014 at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall.

“Honestly, money played a huge factor in my decision to graduate early,” Sitler said. “Going to school is expensive, and I wanted to save every penny I could. I knew that finishing school in three and a half years was the best financial option for me.”

But finding a job isn’t easy for all early graduates. Sitler was always told that graduating early would make it easier to find a job, but she is currently experiencing the opposite.  

“I have encountered several companies that either are not posting job openings until late April or that have start dates in May,” Sitler said. “This is not the case with every company, but I have found it to be a setback in my job search.” 

Sitler is continuing her job search in her hometown of Harrisburg, Pa. She has yet to have any luck. 

“I have a few connections that have led to applications, but I have not heard back yet due to the busy holiday season,” Sitler said. “If finding a full-time job takes longer than expected, I will get a part-time job and continue the search until I find the job for me.” 

Patrice Penrose, an English writing major, also graduated in December 2014 to avoid paying for another semester.

Penrose said the pros heavily outweigh the cons when it comes to early graduation.

 “Some pros of graduating early are not having to pay for an extra term, returning home sooner, getting started on plans for the future and taking a break from work before continuing on to higher education,” Penrose said. 

Penrose said she did not have the most typical college experience and that her goal was simply to graduate, stating that the only con of early graduation are the social issues, like leaving friends behind.

“I don’t care about sticking around for student life or living on campus life or anything like that,” Penrose said. “Those aren’t bad things by any means, but they were not important enough to stick around for.”

Leave a comment.