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200-plus graduate in January

Theresa Civantos | Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Although most Notre Dame seniors will complete their degrees in May, 224 University students will graduate in January.

The number, however, includes graduate students as well as undergraduates, associate registrar Chuck Hurley said.

“About half of these students are part of the class of 2008 graduating early, and the other half are class of 2007 students graduating a little late,” he said.

January 6, 2008, is the official date of January graduation. There is no graduation ceremony, but January graduates can join in the May commencement ceremonies with the rest of their class.

Students usually walk with their class, Hurley said, which means some January graduates walked in the ceremony last May while others will walk this May. August graduates also have the option of walking in the May ceremony.

Hurley said there are many reasons students graduate in January.

“There are so many special circumstances – everything from financial reasons to someone whose parent had cancer during their senior year so they took off a semester and came back to graduate,” he said. “It’s about what best fits that student.”

The biggest reason, Hurley said, is that students are trying to save on tuition. Some students come out of high school with AP credit, he said, so they can graduate early.

Senior Nicole Crnich, a double major in film, television and theatre and Japanese, will graduate in January. Crnich has applied to the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, and if she is accepted, she will move to Japan to teach English. Crnich wants to spend time with her family before her possible move.

“I love Notre Dame, but I’m really excited to graduate early,” she said.

She said deciding to graduate a semester ahead of her classmates was a hard process.

“I made this big chart of pros and cons,” Crnich said.

“There were so many pros,” she said, which helped her tip the balance toward early graduation. “The money I’m saving is definitely a big issue.

“The biggest con for me was being so far away from my friends – because I’ll be living in Chicago next semester – instead of five minutes away,” Crnich said. “All of my closest friends are going to be here next semester.”

But Crnich said she is ready to graduate.

“I’ve been studying so hard for so long,” she said. “I don’t know if I could mentally handle another semester of working as hard as I have been.”

Crnich still plans to walk at graduation in May.

“I’m very, very happy with my decision,” she said. “I’m really satisfied with the time I’ve spent here at Notre Dame, and it’s been enough for me.”

Senior Angela Spisak, a political science major, has also decided to graduate in January. “It helped when I didn’t get an RA position, so I didn’t have to be here all year,” she said.

Spisak also intends to walk in the May ceremony.

Alex Renfro, a philosophy and Japanese major, will graduate in January, but he admits there are a lot of negatives in missing spring semester of senior year.

“You leave everyone – all your friends – behind,” Renfro said. “You’re on a totally different schedule. The things you’re worrying about are totally different from the things they’re worrying about. …

“You feel like you have to tell everybody you’re graduating early because you’re like a ‘special case,'” he joked. “When you tell people you’re leaving early, they’re like, ‘Why would you want to do that?'”

Despite these drawbacks, “I’m kind of ready to get out there, out of the bubble,” Renfro quipped.

He said money was the biggest factor in his decision to graduate early.

“It’s been a crunch. I felt really rushed this semester,” Renfro said of finishing his last semester at Notre Dame.

“I’m kind of ready to move on,” he said.