Last December, 153 students graduated from Hopkins, a 50 percent increase in early graduates from the year before. Defined by the registrar as students who enrolled as undergraduates from high school and fulfilled their requirements in under eight semesters, early graduates tend to be seniors, but a single junior has graduated early at the end of the fall semester in each of the past three years.
“I am so grateful for all Hopkins has given me,” Elizabeth Goodstein, an early graduate, wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “With that said, I feel as though it made perfect sense to graduate early… Many students are ready for the workforce by year four, and many of my friends and peers speak of their senior year being incredibly job-oriented, as opposed to being truly intellectually stimulating.”
“My experience at Hopkins has been terrific. I didn’t originally want to come here, but thank God I did,” Jacob Wildfire, an early graduate, wrote in an email to The News-Letter.
In December 2010, only 78 students graduated early. 2011 saw a slight rise to 100. It is commonly believed that because of Hopkins’s relative lack of core requirements, graduating early is just a matter of fulfilling your major requirements.
“It is in no way easy to graduate from Hopkins early, it is merely that coming in with credits and working during the summer often leads to garnering more credits than one might realize,” Goodstein wrote. “In truth, I accidentally graduated early. Upon filling out my “check-list,” I realized that I would have enough credits to graduate in Fall 2012. This was in no way intentional. Much of these extra credits had little to do with major flexibility. Rather, having worked every summer (for credit) and come to Hopkins with college credit, the numbers simply added up.”
While Goodstein states that her choice to gravitate towards early graduation was simply a matter of fulfilling her requirements, she also cites a few other factors that motivated her to ultimately go through with it.
“It is also extremely difficult to get jobs in film (or the greater entertainment industry) in May, when ‘everyone’ graduates. I thus decided that this few-month ‘leg-up’ could potentially aid me professionally in attaining a job earlier, before everyone else my age graduated simultaneously … The idea that I would be applying to jobs at relatively small entertainment firms before May was something I didn’t think I could pass up,” Goodstein wrote.
Wildfire, having arrived at Hopkins with eight credits from AP Chemistry, attests to satisfying his requirements in a similar, yet more deliberate fashion.
“I decided to graduate early purely on financial reasons,” Wildfire. “Hopkins took away all of my financial aid after sophomore year, so I really couldn’t afford to stay here. I briefly considered transferring, but at that point, I had invested too much into Hopkins. My parents told me they’d help me get through graduation, but I felt that hitting them with this unforeseen cost was unfair of me. For that reason, I looked up all my graduation requirements and realized I could still finish both my majors in 7 semesters. I had to take a few classes over Intersession and overload a little, but both of those things were better than paying for another full semester of tuition.”
Wildfire faced few hurdles due to his enrollment in many of his required classes during his freshman and sophomore years due to his confidence in his major.
“I think it would be easy for most people to graduate early if they knew exactly what they wanted to study coming in freshman year,” Wildfire wrote. “For me, International Studies was always my thing. Perhaps a core system might make it a bit more difficult, but even so, I had finished all my major requirements probably by Junior year.”
According to Goodstein, Hopkins helped to plan and facilitate her early graduation with few obstacles as well.
“The administration was terrific and incredibly helpful in the process. I am forever grateful to them for their patience and enduring understanding,” Goodstein wrote.
Both Wildfire and Goodstein, while enormously involved in a number of extracurricular activities between them, found that their extracurricular activities had little, if any, effect on their desire and ability to graduate early. Still, they both make it clear that such involvement is important.
“There is great value in a reciprocal relationship between a student and the institution they attend (and thus call home),” Goodstein wrote. “I have always felt that investing back in the university and/or school one attends is thus vital.”
While both Goodstein and Wildfire claim to be personally happy with their decision, they left friends behind at Homewood who varied in their opinions.
“Most of my friends seem very happy for me,” Wildfire wrote. “I was able to get a double major from Hopkins in seven semesters and not pay for that final semester. Moreover, because I’m staying around now, I’m able to still participate in all of the Senior events and extracurriculars that are so important to me.”
“Can’t say they were thrilled,” Goodstein wrote “I miss them a great deal and can’t wait for most (or all) of them to be in the same city as I am. I am trying to visit as much as I can and will undoubtedly walk with my class in May.”
Goodstein and Wildfire both acknowledged their belief that graduating early provided them with an advantage not available to May graduates.
“I was offered a full-time position by my current employer (where I had interned for two summers) five days after graduating,” Goodstein wrote. “This would most likely not have happened in May, considering my ‘intern class’ would have been applying simultaneously at that point. Thus there might not have been a place for me.”
Wildfire will begin his work with Teach for America this summer, but plans to remain in Baltimore until then.
“It is a bit odd to me that Hopkins has little to no recognition for seniors who graduate early,” Wildfire wrote. “There were so many of us this year, but for the longest time, we didn’t even get final confirmation that we were in fact graduating. Then, there is no January ceremony, which I understand, but a simple dinner or party or something would have been nice. I felt as if I had committed so much to this school, and yet, the school didn’t recognize me leaving whatsoever.”