Lehigh students graduate early to pursue job market

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In this May 22, 2017, file photo, Lehigh’s mascot, Clutch, gives a thumbs up during the 149th spring commencement in Goodman Stadium. The registrar receives about 300 applications from students seeking to graduate from Lehigh in January. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

For some Lehigh students, graduation comes early.

Every October, the Registrar receives an average of just under 300 applications from graduate students and seniors who hope to graduate in January instead of May.

This year 159 graduate students and 130 undergraduate students applied for January graduation. Now they are waiting to receive final clearances from the Registrar.

“The minimum amount of credits a student needs to graduate is 120,” associate registrar Ashley Baker said. “And all students, whether they graduate in January or May, can apply up to a year in advance for graduation and must do so by going online to the Banner.”

Students may decide to graduate in January to complete their degree in less than four years. Conversely, students who need an extra semester at Lehigh also graduate in January.

Katie Morris, ’18, has worked toward early graduation since her sophomore year.

“I knew coming into Lehigh that I wanted to major in journalism and global studies,” Morris said. “So I didn’t take many classes that weren’t on those topics in order to be on track to graduate early and save money on loans. I had to take a class over the summer, and I’ve pushed myself really hard by overloading my schedule the past three semesters, so I’m a little burnt out.”

Although there is no ceremony held in January, students graduating early can still walk at the commencement ceremony in May. Students who need an additional semester can walk in the spring ceremony before completing their final semester in the fall. This gives students the ability to experience graduation day with their peers. 

Megan Laguardia, ’18, who completed a major and triple minor in 3 1/2 years, said students graduating a semester early sometimes have an advantage when applying to jobs.

“For a lot of the jobs that I applied for, I kept receiving responses noting that I was graduating early,” Laguardia said. “I’m in a tough position where I want to stay here next semester, so I’m not looking for those positions, but definitely a lot of employers are looking for people to start in January.”

Morris plans on taking advantage of her early graduation and starting a six-month internship with the United Nations on January 8.

“I’ve been wanting to do this since my freshman year, and I heard back pretty quickly, which is really exciting,” she said.

However, Morris said graduating early will mean a tough goodbye to Lehigh. 

“I think I’ll miss the little things the most, just walking down the stairs of our apartment and having people so close,” Morris said. “I’m also really going to miss the journalism faculty, I’ve loved hanging out with them these past few years. I’m a little nervous to be a full-blown adult, but I’m still really excited.”

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