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Graduating a semester early

smsksmsk 136 replies10 threads Junior Member
Since I'm taking two classes over the summer, I predict I can graduate a semester early. I can afford an extra semester, so I'm debating whether I should stay in Berkeley for what would be my 8th semester doing research or maybe writing a honors thesis or just move on with my life. I'm still uncertain about the next step in my career after I graduate (e.g. continuing on to graduate school or joining the workforce). Do you think staying for an extra semester for a honors thesis or an additional minor is not worth it?
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Replies to: Graduating a semester early

  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2019
    This is an interesting question because this situation happened to me 30+ years ago and most likely will happen to my kid as well 2 years from now. I graduated 2 quarters early (so 3 years, 1 quarter), but didn’t really take too much advantage of it. I took an evening graduate course (in CS) IIRC both quarters, had an internship for 2 months that didn’t work out too well and did a few interviews, including flying out to 2 in Silicon Valley that turned out to be my job destination. I’m not sure if I would have been as prepared for the interviews if I were still taking daytime classes.

    It’s hard to say what direction to take, but that’s what I did.

    edited February 2019
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  • UndercrackersUndercrackers 878 replies2 threads Member
    If you are dead set on graduating a semester early, you will be done in December. I suppose you can park yourself there while you are figuring out whether you want to get into the workforce or continue your education. It's not a cheap place to be, but if there is something tying you there (like research), sure - stick around. Otherwise, if you are pursuing a higher degree, you don't know where that will be - it may be cheaper to go home while you are figuring that out.

    If you are toying with actually attending classes in that 8th semester (for a minor, for instance), WHY are you taking summer classes, which cost extra? Couldn't you get research or an internship, which would give you some good experience and keep you busy over the summer, then have a light schedule that last semester (or lighten up your schedule a bit in the fall because you have spring to absorb some of that)? Also, you cannot necessarily step into a minor at this stage and assume you will get the classes you need to actually complete one. Ask my D how she knows - she's been planning her minor since sophomore year - it's been a struggle to get the classes she needs while working around the classes for her major. Unless the minor is very relevant to your major, it probably won't help as much as you think in boosting your employment chances or resume for graduate school.

    Whatever you do, don't let the hard work and expense that was involved in you not needing an entire semester go to waste.
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  • UpMagicUpMagic 1434 replies1 threads Senior Member
    If joining the workforce, then graduating a semester early is pretty good as you will have much less competition for job applications. If going to grad school, then you could get out of sync and even in disadvantageous position as most grad programs assume students will start in the fall and therefore the courses in fall are introductory classes and the follow-up classes are in spring. You are suggesting somewhere in the middle ground of doing research or honors thesis, but both activities assume you are still enrolled as you need to receive credits at the end. If you meant doing research after graduation and without credit, then I strongly recommend seek for financial compensation.
    For the time being, I think it's better to think about what do you look forward in your career, which should give you better idea if you would like to do grad school or join the workforce. Hopefully there is some preference and priority whether it's the type of work, field of job/industry, compensation level, location, venture vs. big company, work-life balance, etc. that each individual has his/her opinions about.
    If I were in your situation, I would apply for a co-op for a semester at any company that was reasonably interesting just to see what's out there and re-consider from there.
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  • smsksmsk 136 replies10 threads Junior Member
    edited February 2019
    Thanks for the replies!
    Actually, there is no way around taking summer classes since the course I want to take (MCB 64 - a major requirement) seems to be offered only during summer.
    @Undercrackers I agree that a minor is probably NOT going to make a difference in boosting my employment chances/resume for graduate school.
    The way I see it my options are:
    1- Graduate in December 2019, and apply for a full-time job while I decide whether or not to apply to graduate school.
    2- Graduate in May 2020. Stay for an 8th semester enrolled as a part-time student (honor thesis) and/or undegrad research and get a part-time job.

    Pros of option 1: Saving in college tuition and getting a salary :) Cons: I actually enjoy my time here at Berkeley, so I'm sure I'm going to miss the academic environment.
    Pros of option 2: I could probably dedicate time to work on my honors thesis and have a pretty good glimpse of what grad school would look like. Cons: What if it feels like a semester in limbo? (not attending classes, and not having concrete plans)

    I suppose this is something I need to figure out on my own, but it's really nice to hear what others did or would do in a similar situation.
    edited February 2019
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  • UndercrackersUndercrackers 878 replies2 threads Member
    The fact that MCB 64 is only offered in the summer is crazy, but that's Cal. So, no way around that. My D has a friend who is doing a quarter abroad, so the semester here has started but she's not been in classes for the last 6 weeks (with a bit more to go before she leaves). While she has some part-time work and research, she's got a lot of time on her hands (relatively). My point, OP: keep yourself busy if you plan to stick around for that last semester!
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  • gkalmangkalman 54 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Actually, for most majors, a minor would help for either graduate school or work if it is something like statistics or cs or data science...
    Also, if going to grad school, unless you have one lined up, my advice would be to take an extra semester and start some of the research, etc., as early as you can (even now). It will generally result in better and more personal recommendation letters.
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