Fall grads deserve commencement

By Editorial Board

Hundreds of seniors graduate at the end of each fall semester without a ceremony dedicated specifically to them. These seniors must choose to walk the spring before or wait for the next ceremonies the following spring or not walk across the stage at all.

Hosting a fall commencement ceremony is a worthwhile venture that the administration should consider because of the significant number of students who graduate in December.

In Spring 2014, 1,325 students graduated compared to 626 students who graduated in fall 2013, according to Marvin Cohen, director and registrar of the Records Office. Although the number of students that graduate in the fall is less than half of those who do so in spring, having a ceremony for fall graduates is still valuable. The number of fall graduates is quite large, and a ceremony would be a memorable occasion those students deserve, especially considering that the college attracts students from across the country.

Many Columbia students are from out of state, and the likelihood that they will move back home after graduation is high. An Aug. 1, 2013, Pew Research Center study found that 56 percent of American young adults ages 18–24 lived in their parents’ home in 2012. According to Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Success, approximately 40 percent of Columbia students are from out of state. It is possible that many do not stay in the city after graduation but move back to their hometowns. Graduates may also receive jobs outside of Chicago. According to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data, 28 percent of individuals with bachelor’s degrees move for job-related reasons and are more likely to move than people with only a high school diploma. Especially considering the somewhat limited job availability in the fields of study offered, the likelihood of accepting jobs out of the city is high. So they won’t be around to walk.

Columbia currently only has a contract with the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University for spring commencement, so the college would have to seek an alternative, smaller location for fall. Columbia typically divides commencement into five ceremonies taking place over the course of a weekend in May, but it could have one ceremony for all fall graduates. This would be less costly for the college because it would only have to rent out a space for a few hours.

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and the University of Michigan do host fall commencement ceremonies, and Columbia should follow suit. Opponents can argue these Big Ten colleges have much larger class sizes and on-campus locations to host the events, but it is unfair for Columbia students and their parents to not have opportunities available at other universities because they did not graduate in the formulaic fall-spring track.

Furthermore, the joy of graduating can arguably be lessened because students and parents have to miss their actual graduation by months on either side. It would be more enjoyable for graduates and their families to have commencement immediately after a student’s final semester ends. Soon after a student’s final semester ends is when they are the most excited about graduating and probably before they have officially begun working in the professional world and careers.

After years of dedication, fall semester graduates deserve to have their own ceremony. This ensures parents can celebrate their child’s achievement soon after it occurs instead of having to plan far ahead for an event that is supposed to be an honor, not an inconvenience.