Graduating on Time

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Entering college freshman year, the last thought on your mind is graduation. Usually you — college freshmen — are more preoccupied with the location of tonight’s party, and how many trays of unlimited food you can finish at the dining hall.

But as you approach your senior year, priorities change and you begin to ask yourself, “Am I going to graduate on time? Are all of the classes I’ve been taking these past four years enough to earn my degree?”

The horror stories some SUNY Oswego students lived through during their college experiences might be enough to scare you into mapping out your academic path before tonight’s party.

Adam Webster is a current SUNY Oswego student, projected to graduate in May 2013. By that time, it will have taken Webster five and a half years to earn his marketing degree.

“Transferring schools contributed [to late graduation] as I switched from being a management major to a marketing major when I made the move from Utica College,” Webster said.

He also spent a great deal of time at Oswego building a custom apparel company to support himself through college and secure financial stability for after graduation.

“I have continuously worked on being able to support myself before leaving school, because I don’t think life waits for a degree in that respect,” said Webster.

Completing between 12-15 credits each semester and a class over winter break, Webster has maintained a full-time student status, until recently.

“Right now I am stuck waiting until the spring semester to take the last class I need for my major, and to earn my degree. The class is closed and the business department won’t let me in. This also means that I will begin paying my student loans this December before I get my degree, because I am no longer a full time student. Furthermore, because I will not be attending this fall, I have to re-apply to be enrolled at Oswego because I am not registered in any classes in the fall,” said Webster.

Mike Allen, an Oswego alumnus who graduated this past May said, “I took a summer class every summer. That’s probably the only reason I was able to graduate on time.”

After taking four to five classes per semester on top of summer classes, Allen graduated in four years with a childhood education, math concentration bachelor’s degree. But it was not all smooth-sailing, according to him.

“When you first go to Oswego you get a ‘first year adviser.’ Then [you get a new adviser] based on your major. My first year adviser never told me I switched advisers, so I went to her until I was half way through junior year. She could never open any of my information or pull up the stuff I needed because she didn’t have access to it, and never realized I shouldn’t be [going to her]. I had to go to Culkin [Hall] and get it all figured out. That lady had no idea what I needed or what I should be taking. It was so bad,” said Allen.

As far as advisers at SUNY Oswego go, every freshman is assigned one for his or her first year. Your freshman year adviser is the one beginning your academic path to excellence. Freshman year advisers are required to meet with you a number of times throughout the year to make sure classes are going well, and to review what classes you will need to take in the next three years for your major.

During Allen’s three years with his freshman-year adviser he said, “At one point I had to pick up another class just for credit. Any easy class would be perfect, but [my adviser] put me in economics because I was a [childhood education major with a] math concentration, so she thought it would be easy. But I have never taken a business class. I passed with a C, luckily. It was a lot of work and time I had to put into it when I could have taken a gym class.”

Completing a specific amount of credits is a task every college student must complete in order to earn a degree. General education requirements are usually what make up about half of those credits.

According to SUNY Oswego’s website, “General education is an integral part of the Oswego undergraduate degree. Made up of SUNY-wide categories and local requirements, the general education program contains courses that will enable the student to acquire and use the skills, habits of thought, and problem-solving abilities necessary to do well both while at Oswego and after being graduated. Students should work closely with advisers to craft a general education program that complements their major and interests.”

SUNY Oswego’s general education requirements consist of areas such as natural sciences, math and history, for example.

“I would blame the reason it takes so long to graduate on general education requirements that have absolutely nothing to do with your major, like exploration in the sciences,” Allen said. “Everyone needs it but they fill up in five seconds and are hard to get into. It’s unneeded stress. Gen-eds are the reason my GPA was a 2.9 and not a 3. Having to take a year of Spanish took up pointless time.”

For Allen, getting into the classes he needed for his major and finding five available classes each semester was a task in itself.

“If I didn’t take a summer class every year to make sure I had the full five classes [per semester], I would have to go back,” Allen said. “If you fail one class, or make one mistake and don’t get those perfect five classes you need each semester, you’re staying longer.”

At SUNY Oswego, students follow what is called a “CAPP Report,” which is a break down of the categories and classes a student is required to take to graduate in his or her major. A CAPP Report lists categories such as foreign language, America and the Western heritage, human diversity and intellectual issues, to name a few.

“I always have issues with my CAPP Report. Online when I look at it, it shows one thing but whenever I meet with my adviser in person they always print it out, cross things off and write things in so it is different than what is presented online to me,” Adam Webster said.

Aditya Kurniadi, an Oswego alumnus, was in a special circumstance, which did not require him to follow a CAPP Report. Kurniadi graduated early from SUNY Oswego in three and a half years with a communications/broadcasting media degree.

“I lived in Johnson Hall my freshmen year. I received 16 credits each semester. Then I decided to live in Hart Hall and did the same,” he said. “Sixteen credits each semester, plus some classes I took were four credits. That totaled up.”

Kurniadi said he was able to graduate a semester early by taking six classes each semester. He also participated in a summer internship for seven credits.

“I interned the summer of 2007 at 95.5 WPLJ in the promotions department,” Kurniadi said.

He said he always stayed on top of available classes on his own. Kurniadi maintained focus on his classes and was always able to register for the ones he required for his major. He never failed or repeated any classes.

“I only met with [my adviser] once and I usually did my own follow-up and made sure I was focused. To be honest, they’re there to agree with you. I mean we are all adults, so we make our own decisions,” said Kurniadi.

He did not come into Oswego with any previous college credits, nor did he have to take classes over summer or winter breaks.

“I didn’t plan on graduating early, but things happen and my credits totaled up. Everything happened so fast, but it was good,” he said.

At Oswego, Only 40 Percent of Students Finish Their Degree on Time

According to the latest available data on SUNY Oswego’s website, in 2011 a total of 1,533 students were awarded degrees, as opposed to 1,384 students who were granted acceptance to SUNY Oswego four years previous.

Of course, discrepancies can come from students who transfer to and from Oswego, drop out or graduate either early or late.

In 2010, 1,429 degrees were awarded, compared to 1,354 incoming freshmen in 2006. Additionally, in 2009 a total of 1,489 degrees were awarded, compared to 1,351 freshmen who were granted acceptance in 2005.

During each student’s course of study at SUNY Oswego, he or she is required to complete a basic criterion including writing, computer literacy and critical thinking courses. Foreign language at a 102 level or equivalent must be completed if the student did not reach Regents Level 4 during high school studies. Knowledge foundations including arts, humanities, mathematics and sciences as well as history courses and diversity courses are also requirements for all students.