Hundreds, even thousands, of Drexel seniors will graduate in just over a month, a day that’s long been a distant dream to them as they endured lagging lectures and seemingly never-ending final days of co-op. But their moment is coming, and it’s one that many of them have spent five years working toward. We congratulate all of the University’s graduating seniors on their upcoming accomplishment.
But graduation time at Drexel also makes for a class of would-be seniors standing on the sidelines at the graduations of friends who opted to go to different colleges. It’s not that these Dragons aren’t graduating because they didn’t take enough credits per term or took a leave of absence from school. It’s by virtue of being a Drexel student in the five-year program that makes you a “supersenior” by the average college’s standard.
But Drexel is no average college. The co-op program, which offers students a choice between the four-year, one co-op or five-year, three co-op options (for anyone who’s been living under a rock or isn’t Dragon-affiliated), is an invaluable asset well worth the extra time spent with your nose in the books or butt in the office chair. Here’s why you should be happy to be at Drexel year-round and maybe even an extra year:
1. In five years, Drexel students accrue up to 18 months of work experience at companies with competitive names in various industries. We’re building our resumes so that when we do catch up to our graduating friends in the job market, we’ll be better candidates for the positions they’ve been pining for ever since they got out of school. Sometimes we even get job offers from the employers we impressed during these co-ops, which is even better!
2. The job market is still formidable, especially for recent grads. The unemployment rate for this demographic between March 2012 and February 2013 was 8.8 percent, according to CNBC. And this doesn’t account for those who consider themselves underemployed, which should be the majority of recent grads because their average wage is $16.60 per hour. These students come out of school expecting the job of their dreams to land in their lap, and instead they’re tending the yogurt bar at Kiwi. Why settle for mediocrity when you can make yourself the more appealing job candidate while you’re still in school?
3. “The race to graduation” is a fallacy. It’s one thing to load up on credits each term so that you can get out of paying Drexel’s sky-high tuition for a few terms. Or, for example, maybe you’re a transfer student whose credits don’t mesh with the University’s quarter system. It’s OK. But you shouldn’t legitimately be concerned that it’s taking you an extra year to graduate. The real goal is education, and you should be soaking up as much as you can while you have the opportunity. Plus, graduate school is always an option, especially in a turbulent job market. Again, making yourself the most knowledgeable and experienced candidate for your desired job should be your chief goal.
4. Most are familiar with the fact that Drexel divides its co-op students into two groups (with some exceptions) – there’s the “spring-summer” workers and the “fall-winter” ones. And if you’re not working, you’re in classes, fulfilling the University’s “LIVE IT 24/7” mantra. With summer fast approaching, many students are lamenting still being tied to Drexel.
But instead of saying goodbye to our friends in May, we get to spend the summer together doing fun activities, like taking day trips to the beach. Of course our friends from home are always complaining that we’re never around, but we’re content with where we are. We are able to keep the friendships from the past year and grow them stronger during the coming months, and we have the opportunity to meet more people.
5. Students who get a six-month co-op get a real taste of the workforce, learning what it feels like to work 40 hours per week, working through breaks and around holidays, and getting that blessed paycheck every two weeks. Many Drexel students claim that once they finally get comfortable at their co-op, the six months are up. If six months is what it takes to get fully acclimated to the work atmosphere, then a three-month summer internship surely isn’t enough to make you feel like you’re part of the team. So yes, it may be tough watching your friends ditch their textbooks in pursuit of their life goals, but you’ll get there sooner than you might think.
Be patient, bide your time, and relish each time you update your resume with your latest accomplishment. No, Drexel may not be shooting diplomas out at lightning speed, but it’s a “career prep” school that will inevitably get you hired somewhere impressive. Graduation is really just a formality.