Sticking to the four-year plan

Lynandro SimmonsGeneral Assignment Reporter

Staying within the structure of a four-year plan in college is difficult but possible, said Jonathan Wharton, a political science professor and academic advisor.

“It’s more about strategizing and planning,” said Wharton.

There are a plethora of things – minor classes, work outside of school, finances – that students have to plan for in order to graduate on time, Wharton said. The problem for students is planning for all of this – a situation not just unique to Southern.

“The unique thing with Southern is you have a lot of students who do work full-time or at least part-time,” said Wharton.

A lot of the students have a lot on their plate so it becomes a time management issue. There are also many non-traditional students – veterans and students with families to take care of – who have to do this juggling act as well, Wharton said. However, even with careful planning there are unavoidable situations.

“You can plan it out as much as you want but something can always pop up,” said Wharton.

However, Wharton said that the four or five-year plan was never something he was stuck on. Instead he advises his students with the best plan to gain enough experience to get a full-time job, no matter the time length. For this reason Wharton emphasises the importance of internships.

Through internships students are able to get the experience required for a full-time job once they leave college. The experience also helps to establish connections for them, he said.

“Too many students don’t get internships or experience and get out there on time, but don’t get a job they prefer,” said Wharton.

John Coniglio, a senior secondary education major, will be at Southern three semesters after what was supposed to be his final year. Coniglio said he only knew a few students that graduated on time.

“Most of them are business majors,” said Coniglio. “I don’t know many education majors who graduated in four years.”

His biggest issue is the amount of core classes students have to take. Classes like Spanish are important, but a student should not be forced to take it if not absolutely necessary, said Coniglio.

“A lot of schools don’t have the liberal arts program that we have, so you can dive right into your major,” he said.

Amber Archambault, a first-year experience worker, said incoming freshmen should meet someone within her department to stay on course.

“Nicole Henderson is a great resource,” Archambault said. “But everybody in this building is trying to get students to graduate on time.”

Archambault added there are other resources to help students as well, such as the Library, Student Success Center and advisors in each department that are all committed to the success of students.

However, the difficulty with freshmen can be that a lot do not know what they want to do, Archambault said. While Southern’s liberal arts program allows students to experience a variety of classes, students should not try to create a plan alone. Meeting with someone can get them on the correct path to graduate on time.

Graduating college in four years can be difficult, but it is practical considering the astronomical costs. Stretching it out could cost a lot of money that many students do not have, Archambault said.

“It’s possible to graduate on time,” said Archambault. “But it can be very difficult to do.”

Photo Credit: Palmer Piana

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