Whether students graduate in seven semesters or ten, Keene State College (KSC) allows students to do either.
According to the Keene State College Factbook, compiled by the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment from 2015-16, the graduation rate for all first-time, full-time, first-year degree seeking students by cohort in 2010, out of 1,205 students, 53.5 percent of students graduated in four years, while 61.7 percent graduated in five years.
KSC biology major Casey Kimball is currently finishing up her degree in just seven semesters after carefully planning her academic career.
“I met with an advisor the first day I came here and I actually met with her during orientation because I knew I wanted to be a bio major, so I talked to her and she got me set up on the right track and coming into freshman year they usually put you with a ton of ISP classes immediately to get those taken care of,” Kimball said.
However, sometimes even with planning, staying longer than the standard eight semesters is inevitable, especially when a student transfers from another school.
Athletic training major Taylor Bright transferred to KSC after going to a junior college in California, where the majority of her family has gone for generations.
A junior college is meant for students to prepare for a four-year college after high school.
“The reason I came in as a sophomore instead of a junior was because the classes that I was taking at my junior college weren’t necessarily all the classes I had to take here for my major.
They didn’t have the same amount of classes there that they do here, so I was behind on the classes that need to be taken for it,” Bright said.
Bright is among the majority of students that will need five years to finish their degree.
Senior health science, health promotion, and community health major Emmy Roddy took a similar path as Kimball, allowing her to also graduate a semester early.
“I started as a communications major, but it just wasn’t for me so I took the Intro to Health and Wellness class and quickly switched to health science and it was definitely better fitting for me,” Roddy said.
KSC also allows students to take summer classes in order to catch up on courses or speed up the graduation process.
“I always planned to study abroad for a semester and I definitely wanted to do that, it just didn’t work out with working and everything I am involved in so I did a summer semester last summer [in Florence, Italy] and that gave me the extra three credits to push me to be able to graduate early so I just recently decided I was going to graduate early,” Roddy said.
While these three students have taken different paths to get to where they are, they all agree that they are where they want to be.
“It is helpful though because I think I have more time to look at things from [a different] perspective…..Even though I am older, I will have more perspective on what I need to do after I leave and what needs to be done. I get extra time to make sure I am prepared for what is after graduating,” Bright said.
There is never one path in college. Students pursue different things and choose different careers.
“[Graduating early] definitely gives you more time to think about what you want to do because people aren’t bombarding me with questions like, ‘What are you wanting to do?’. I feel comfortable saying: ‘I’m taking the spring semester off to work and stay in Keene and hang out with my friends,’ and then move on from there,” Roddy said.
Mary Curtin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org