The fifth year decision

by byTracie Whitney

With graduation fast approaching, seniors are preparing to don cap and gown to receive their college degree and get out into the working world.

But some seniors will be passing up a May graduation for a fifth year at Simpson.

Since 1997, 82 percent of students have graduated in four years. Of the remaining 18 percent, 79 percent graduated in five years.

“I am surprised that the 79 percent isn’t higher. We provide a lot of opportunities for students to graduate in four years,” said Registrar John Bolen. “On the other hand, only 18 percent of students don’t graduate in four years. That’s pretty good.”

Simpson does make some exceptions to rules by allowing a student who is short one or two classes to take summer courses so that they may take part in a May graduation ceremony.

“If the class they need isn’t offered they can sign up for a directed study,” said Bolen. Directed study is similar to an independent study course. “If the class can’t be a directed study, we allow students to transfer in the credits.”

For fifth-year seniors, their extra year of study can be a result of a variety of factors.

Junior Josh Erickson is planning to attend Simpson for a fifth year because of a double major.

“I am working towards two majors, one in accounting and the other in finance. With one major I would have finished in four years,” said Erickson, who said he had another motive for staying another year. “I also have another year of eligibility for football so that is kind of why I picked the second major.”

Junior Joel Shenefield also cited athletics as a reason for choosing a fifth-year senior status.

“My main purpose was to redshirt in track so I could mature as a runner. So five years was inevitable,” he said.

Shenefield transferred from Graceland University as a sophomore. He had problems transferring credits which also made graduating in four years difficult.

“With the credits, it wasn’t going to happen,” said Shenefield. “I have taken 12-15 credits per semester so I have had some flexibility. If I am not happy with a class I can drop it.”

Bolen said that there is a strong link between transfer students and five-year graduates.

“I find that most of the five-year seniors are transfers,” said Bolen. ‘The majority of student-athletes are graduating in four years even though some of them choose to take a lighter class load in the semester their season falls.”

Gwen Schroeder, director of transfer enrollment, said she does what she can to get transfer students out in four years.

“I try to influence them early to come to Simpson and then I advise them to take classes to fit our curriculum,” said Schroeder. “I feel pretty good about getting them out in four years.”

Simpson does what they can to graduate students in four years but, according to Bolen, it takes commitment from both the students and their parents to make it possible.