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Are There Benefits to Graduating From College Early?

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So, is trying to speed up your degree a good strategy?
The Sales Program
Is guided practical experience worth the wait?

After thousands of appointments with students over the years, I see this recurring theme: Students want to finish their undergraduate degree programs as quickly as possible.

They plan to finish in three years, two-and-a-half years or one semester early. Some take 18 to 21 credit hours, and some even take additional classes at a community college. The desire to “get done” is especially acute with transfer students.

So, is trying to speed up your degree a good strategy?

I'm an ecumenist by training, so I would give the answer most ecumenists would — it depends! If what you are after is a designation indicating you completed coursework so you can “get on with your life,” then the answer is yes. If the degree program you have chosen has only classes to offer, then yes, get it done and get it done quickly.

But at JSOM, I'd like to suggest there is more to your education than getting the classes done. Most of our programs are designed to elevate you personally and professionally.

The courses are only one aspect of your educational experience; many programs offer more. You will have plentiful opportunities to gain practical knowledge.

Several of our degree programs offer professional programs (Accounting, Finance, Healthcare Management, Marketing, Sales.) for students, who, as Dr.M arilyn Kaplan, associate dean of undergraduate academic operations, puts it, “are career-minded … come in looking for a path, “ and “are enthusiastic about the opportunities for a specialized experience.”

Most students who are just “getting it done,” do not take the time to notice such programs, let alone take the time to enhance their academic experience by engaging with them. We have over 70 student organizations within JSOM. Students can also attend regular events put on by the Career Management Center each semester. Maybe there is a little bit more to experience here?

The Sales Program

If you are “getting it done” in the Professional Sales Concentration, we can regularly invite you to participate in many of the enhanced experiences we offer. Selected students who compete in regional competitions in their junior year, compete on the national team. Our student account managers, who manage our corporate accounts, usually have to complete their coursework in the program in their junior year to be considered for account management in their senior year.

We host a Sales Leadership Summit every semester for our corporate partners, alumni and Professional Sales Concentration students. Some of our top students, who join our program in their sophomore or junior year, obtain several top internships. Students in our elected student board have at least three semesters before graduation to serve and develop leadership skills. The students who strategically plan their coursework and fully engage in our program tend to have multiple internships and job offers. They take the time to engage with our corporate partners each semester, over several semesters. They aren’t just “getting it done,” they are making an intentional investment in their professional careers.

Is guided practical experience worth the wait?

The sales program is just one path to take at JSOM. I am sure other professional programs can provide similar opportunities. So, perhaps it is time to slow down and look around. Take some time to look at the other part of the educational experience. Reach out to your program director and see what your degree program has to offer.

Look for a club or organization to join this fall. Check out the various Professional Programs on campus. Go the Career Management Center and see what it has to offer to you. Check out the various labs on campus and see what resources are available to enhance your educational experience.

Some people are questioning the value of a university education in the current environment. If you engage with all that JSOM has to offer, there is no question that JSOM is a unique place where a rich academic experience is there for the taking. But you might have to change your focus from getting it done, to doing it right!

Howard Dover

Howard Dover

Dr. Dover is a marketing and sales professor at the Naveen Jindal School of Management. As the director of the Center for Professional Sales at JSOM, he has a real passion for coaching students and helping them reach their goals. Read more articles

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