Graduation Complication – Final Project – Foster, Ramos, Chambers, Blay-Tofey

One out of two students at St. Edward’s University will graduate “on time” with the typical four year college plan. Many students find themselves graduating early, graduating late, or transferring to another school. While falling outside of the recommended four year plan can be perceived as negative, it is not always seen as a burden to those who experience an unorthodox college experience.

Graduating early is one of the many factors as to why students are not completing college in the typical four year span. Getting a jump-start on one’s career or possibly saving thousands of dollars on tuition in the process can be quite an appealing offer, especially with the cost of attending St. Edward’s rising year over year. Alex Soybel, a recent St. Edward’s early graduate, graduated in the Fall of 2016, a semester earlier than her original plan suggested. “I never liked the obligation of school,” she said. “I love learning but always hated busy work, so I just wanted to get out of that to be honest.” And her post-early graduation life seems to be a success: “I have a well-paying job, an apartment near downtown, and I’m only 21 years old.”

When a student is faced with the decision to transfer schools, a common fear is not being able to integrate into a new social environment. Hunter Williams, a student who transferred from St. Edward’s to The University of Texas at Dallas, claimed how “transferring was a scary idea” at first glance.  Although transferring may seem like an intimidating road to travel, the change of scenery when attending a new school can also be beneficial in terms of getting a fresh start. Former student Sam Dier adds that transferring away from St. Edward’s can be “so much cheaper.”

Pierce Soreals, a student who transferred from St. Edward’s to the University of Texas at Dallas during his sophomore year voiced that transferring resulted in an “academically more rigorous” experience. Despite the unique circumstances that both Dier and Soreals encountered when transferring, both of them shared a common challenge: loss of credits.

While some students may choose to transfer away, those who stay at St. Edward’s can also encounter obstacles that result in late graduation. Graduating late has a negative stigma surrounding it. However, two St. Edward’s alumni who took the unconventional path argue that taking their time to graduate benefited them. Both did not plan on graduating late, but they are confident they made the right decision. Erin Reas took six years to graduate due to transferring to three different colleges. Not all of her credits transferred and her graphic design degree at St. Edward’s was so specific it hindered her graduating on time. Reas said she “enjoyed having more time to make connections at St. Edward’s and having a solid career waiting for her.” Sarah Fumagalli took four and a half years to graduate due to double majoring.  However, Fumagalli does not regret it because she said when she graduated she “knew that when [she] walked across that stage [she] chose the correct career path.” Both argued they would not change anything about their college time frame and that students should consider to take the extra time to graduate to make sure they make the right career decision.  

Despite the number of students that leave St. Edward’s, the university has consistently maintained an average of an approximately 82% retention rate in recent history. This means that about 82% of each freshman class continues onto their sophomore year. This number is quite satisfactory in comparison to the retention rates observed at peer universities in competition with St. Edward’s: other small, private, religiously affiliated schools. St. Edward’s makes many efforts and initiatives to help students feel connected and develop relationships during their freshman year to keep students satisfied with their choice to be a student at the university.

Nicole Trevino, head of retention at St. Edward’s, encourages students to graduate in four years. However, she claims that the school is committed to their “moral and ethical obligation” to help students be successful, no matter how many semesters it takes.

One thought on “Graduation Complication – Final Project – Foster, Ramos, Chambers, Blay-Tofey”

  1. Very strong story. The strengths are in the reporting. You spoke with multiple sources, which always makes for stronger journalism. The
    chart works (though we need the source of the data. Where does it come from. A note underneath the chart like this: SOURCE: blah blah — and the Trevino interview w/voiceover is informative. A few minor points:

    1. “This means that about 82% of each freshman class continues onto their sophomore year. This number is quite satisfactory in comparison to the retention rates observed at peer universities in competition with St. Edward’s: other small, private, religiously affiliated schools. St. Edward’s makes many efforts and initiatives to help students feel connected and develop relationships during their freshman year to keep students satisfied with their choice to be a student at the university.” Which peer institutions and how, specifically, does SEU compare?

    2. Some journalism writing points: Generally, we place quotations in their own paragraphs and keep paragraphs short (generally three or four sentences).

    3. Pierce Soreals had a more academically rigorous experience at UT-Dallas. That’s specific, not general. We need to know more to weigh what he’s saying. What was his major? How did the programs differ, specifically, between the two schools? Same with your other student interviews. We need to know their majors and reasons for transfer. Just push a little harder to give detail.

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