For many Penn seniors, graduation serves as the last hurrah for senior spring, a semester marked by various celebratory events such as Feb Club and the final toast.
However, for seniors who received their diplomas in the mail after graduating a semester early, the ceremony in May can feel more like a homecoming.
Penn students can choose to graduate a year or a semester early if they have completed the requirements for their degree. Students who choose to do so often stress the financial benefits, explaining that graduating a semester early allows them to save a semester’s worth of tuition.
“Penn is so unbelievably expensive,” said 2016 College graduate Emily True who graduated last December. “I was contemplating taking a semester off anyway because I knew I would finish all of my courses.”
Seniors who graduate a semester early do not have a ceremony arranged for them in the fall, but are invited back to campus to participate in the spring ceremony with the rest of their class.
Wharton senior Marilyn Yang, who concentrated in finance, marketing and management, decided to graduate early when she finished the requirements for her degree during her fall semester of senior year. She attended the graduation ceremony this May.
Despite graduating in December, Yang has largely stayed at Penn to continue a job on campus. To fill up the rest of her free time, Yang has also been working part-time for a public relations and marketing startup based in New York City.
While Yang said she chose to step down from all of her clubs on campus by February, not all seniors choose to give up their extra-curricular activities.
True, who was involved in CityStep, the Vagina Monologues and the a cappella group Counterparts during her time at Penn, said she has still been heavily involved with her extracurricular clubs throughout the spring semester.
True said being involved in these activities made her feel like she was still a Penn student, even though she already received her diploma after the fall semester. She added that she was able to spend more time in the semester meeting friends since she wasn’t enrolled in classes anymore.
While True and Yang have maintained contact with their peers after graduating early, other seniors who have left to take on jobs elsewhere, find themselves slightly disconnected from the Penn community.
2017 College graduate Rhiannon Grodnik left campus during the spring semester for her work with AmeriCorps, where she worked as a tutor in the Boston area.
“It was definitely a bit distancing from friends at Penn especially since I wasn’t in the [Philadelphia] area this past semester,” Grodnik said. “However, I did come down to [Philadelphia] for breaks and one of my school breaks aligned with Spring Fling so I came for that.”
Grodnik added that despite her time away, she was excited for the graduation ceremony.
“It feels like I’ve been away for a while,” she said. “But grad[uation] is still pretty hype for me.”
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