Road to graduation often bumpy for some

Story by Chris Ortiz

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For each student, the journey to the college graduation stage can be different. Some are student-athletes, competing in sports that they grew to love in high school and were lucky enough to carry over to their college career. Others might focus on their love of theater or music, while some simply enjoy the atmosphere of college and the first time living away from home.

But many students encounter obstacles on the way. Here are three stories of hardships along the four-year, or longer, path to a diploma.

Bradley Burnside

For senior Bradley Burnside, who is graduating in May of 2015, his first semester as a senior was filled with a lot of sleepless nights.

“I was working all night in the library and fell asleep at my computer,” Burnside said, of one of nights. “I was woken up at about 6 in the morning by the security guard. Just out of a reaction, I punched him. It wasn’t on purpose, so we left it at that.”

Burnside said he has stayed in the library for, at times, up to three days in a row, working on papers, presentations, and his dissertations, leaving his wife Chelsee and cat Gibbs at home.

“It has been difficult, working on my [French and psychology] degrees,” Burnside said. “Especially balancing that with being married and having a cat.”

Not everything has been so stressful for the BU wrestler. One payoff of all of his hard work was presenting his research at PERK Midwest Psychology Conference and studying abroad for a summer in Paris.

Burnside hopes to go to graduate school to get his masters in an interdisciplinary program for counseling psychology and Russian/Eastern European and Eurasian studies.

Andre Jolly

Sometimes, it is not just the late nights that hinder a student’s preparation for graduation. In the case of senior football defensive end Andre Jolly, who is under an older catalogue of general education requirement and not the new Quest program, one required class that he was not aware he had to take set him back.

“I took 18 credit hours this semester to try and graduate,” Jolly said. Jolly was scheduled to graduate in December but one missed class pushed him back to May 2015.

The fifth-year senior said that he has tried to stay organized to do to ensure that graduates. However, it has been difficult to balance taking a lot of hours and being a student athlete.

Jolly took most of his major classes first and then circled back to take most of his general education classes. This is where he believes he had a lapse, resulting in a required social science class that he did not take on time.

“Advisors need to do a better job getting the students the classes their students need instead of [having their students wait] more and more semesters to graduate,” Jolly said.

Registrar’s Office

Jolly is not the only one who has missed a class required to graduate. According to Graduation & Transfer Specialist Renee Linder, it happens more often than people may think.

“[There are] a lot of problems with BA [degrees] and foreign languages and BS [degrees] on the math level,” Linder said. “Language keeps [students] back a semester if they get it out of the loop, because you cannot take it during interterm. If you are trying to graduate during the fall semester, you have to have all of your classes done by interterm, and for the spring by the end of summer. That is how you can still graduate when you are supposed to.”

Linder explained how one student, who was supposed to graduate with her bachelors of science degree in the spring semester of 2014, had all of her classes completed except for one math class. She had promised the college that she would take the class that summer from a community college and transfer the credit to Baker.

Linder said the student still has not transferred credit for the missing class to the registrar’s office.

“She has up to five years to get that last credit in, and if she doesn’t, then she has to start all over again as a freshman,” Linder said.

Jodie Randels, coordinator of the College of Arts and Sciences registrar’s office, said that the biggest recent issue with seniors came with the spring of 2013 graduating class.

“Thirty-five percent of the graduating students had to take classes during the summer,” Randels said.

While the Quest general education program requires fewer hours than the old general education program did, it can be more difficult to transfer credits in from other schools.

Quest classes can only be taken at Baker, and these classes are limited each semester and sometimes fill up quickly. But Randels still believes the program should not stop a student from graduating on time.