USA Today Campus Beat: Rise of the ‘Speedy Senior’

I am excited to introduce the first entry of a new column I will be writing for USA Today College.  Campus Beat aims to spotlight different facets of the university scene via its most significant primary source– the student press.  The post below outlines a possible new enrollment trend, linking to stories in The Eagle at American University, The Cornell Daily Sun, and The Oracle at the University of South Florida.

This commencement season– among the caps, gowns, diplomas, and distinguished invited speakers such as Snooki — a question looms: How many fresh graduates were on the three-year college plan?

According to a new report in American University’s Eagle, there are an “increasing number of students that graduate early from universities across the nation.”

While the super senior — an undergraduate who takes five years or more to earn a degree — has long been a part of university lore, the so-called “speedy senior” is a relatively new breed of student.

The speedy senior graduates a semester or full year early — taking advantage of AP credits, course overloads, and summer and winter break sessions. Sometimes, the speedsters are spurred by academic ambitions or a general impatience to enter the job market. But mostly, they are motivated by the opportunity to stave off debt.

As the Eagle found, “Though many students acknowledged that they would be giving up opportunities like studying abroad, interning or taking more electives by graduating early, they explained that saving money is more important.”

While it is better for students’ bank accounts, it is troublesome for schools’ bottom lines. As The Cornell Daily Sun reported in February, “The upswing in early graduations has begun to put a financial burden on the colleges, which do not receive expected tuition dollars when students graduate early.”

To read the rest of the post, check out Campus Beat.

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