Choosing a college that’s right for you means asking yourself big questions. Whether you can graduate in four years shouldn’t be one of them.
At a larger school, Cami Christopulos ’16 couldn’t have afforded to change her mind. Luckily, she came to Carthage.
Enrolling in 2012, Ms. Christopulos set out to major in elementary education. Then her plans took a U-turn.
The student-run Velocity Consulting agency hired her as a freshman, and the next summer she entered a campus program for emerging leaders. Eager to dig deeper into leadership and administration, she switched majors to marketing and finance while sticking to her roots with a minor in educational studies.
One more, gentler curve still lay ahead. Realizing that “numbers just weren’t my thing,” she dropped finance as a second major and substituted management.
Even after multiple detours, Ms. Christopulos was able to earn her bachelor’s degree in four years. And she didn’t need to lock herself in her room to do it. She held down multiple campus jobs, as well as executive board positions with at least 10 student groups.
“I was able to dabble in a variety of fields and classes, find my true future career path, and still graduate in four years,” she said.
She’s now an assistant vice president at Specialty Partner Marketing in Chicago.
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Stories like this are common at Carthage, where more than 90 percent of our graduates finish in four years. Compare that to 59 percent at small private colleges in general and 38 percent at regional public universities.
That was a major selling point for Gabie Cypher ’16, who was determined to major in both social work and business management as long as it wasn’t “crazy expensive.” A variety of scholarships helped her to pick Carthage over a larger school, but she knew that aid wouldn’t cover any extra semesters.
“To get a degree in two very different fields in four years was the main reason I chose this school,” Ms. Cypher said.
Considering her rare combination of majors, it wasn’t easy. Only two classes overlapped. With some careful planning, though, she made it through eight semesters without ever having to overload on credits.
“My advisor, Danielle Geary, helped me to plan my four years of college classes out to make sure I was able to get all of my requirements in on time,” she said. “She met with me every semester to check my progress. She even helped me plan so I didn’t have to do two senior theses in one semester.”
Her college choice continued to pay dividends. After Carthage, she earned a master’s degree in clinical/medical social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thanks to Carthage’s advanced standing program, she needed only one year of graduate school, not the usual two. She’s now a medical social worker at Monroe Clinic Hospital in Monroe, Wisconsin.
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Besides avoiding a fifth or even sixth year of tuition, there’s another financial bonus to graduating on time: a head start in the job market.
Nick Mulvey ’02, the College’s vice president for enrollment, reminds college searchers and their parents to keep that in mind when they’re comparing value.
“You’re off and earning long before other college graduates reach the starting line,” he said.
Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it.
That starts with the first-year advisors. Advisors work closely with new students to pick courses for the first three semesters before handing off to major-specific faculty advisors. Advisors work with students to map out a plan that leaves them room to explore different disciplines and stretch their minds in multiple directions, said Carrie Espinosa, Director of the Center for Student Success. At the same time, they can begin to fulfill requirements for general education and their major, once they’ve chosen it.
Of course, not even the most meticulous planner can foresee every scheduling conflict. That’s when students turn to the Office of the Registrar.
“One of the benefits of a smaller school is the personal attention we’re able to give each student,” said Carthage Registrar Brigid Patterson. “We realize there are many ways to reach the same goal, and we’ll work with them individually to make sure they do it in a four-year time frame.”
So, unless you’re committed to the 12-year plan, it’s a safe bet that at Carthage, you’ll be cleared for takeoff right on schedule. The runway to everywhere awaits.