December 20, 2011
December grads have quiet finish
More SUNY Cortland students completing their studies in winter
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland student Steve Manning, who is graduating this month, earns extra money on Dec. 7 as a referee for a modified basketball game between Cincinnatus and DeRuyter at Cincinnatus High School.
Steve Manning finished his time at SUNY Cortland last week and now faces whatever comes next, either a teaching job or law school.
The Elmira native wrapped up his course work this semester. No commencement ceremony awaits him or the other 538 undergraduates eligible to graduate this month, but he is still finished.
Manning already walked through commencement in May, the only time the college has ceremonies for its May, August and December graduates. A few of this month’s graduates will walk next May.
Like many December graduates, Manning walked in the May commencement to be with friends — four of his housemates he had lived with since sophomore year.
Then they went on to jobs or graduate school while Manning, a social studies education major, returned to Cortland to finish.
“It was tough leaving that day, having friends who wouldn’t be back,” he said. “But at least I knew where I was going to be in the fall. Some of them didn’t.”
Finishing a college degree in December is more common than it used to be, for several reasons.
Some students graduate early. Others graduate late because they switched majors and had to catch up in the course sequence, or stretched out courses while playing a sport or working, or transferred in from a two-year college and had to make up lost credits.
Some receive academic suspension for poor grades or poor behavior, which causes them to enroll for an extra semester or year beyond the four-year mark.
The state general education requirements can be difficult to fit into four years.
The undergraduates eligible to graduate this month might have followed any of those paths, said John Shirley, SUNY Cortland director of career services. In some cases, they might still need to do an internship or student teaching, depending on their major.
The number was up from the 441 who finished in December 2010. The number of graduate students finishing now is close to the same: 128 compared to 122 in 2010.
Teaching and other education majors will have a difficult time finding a job now, as school districts tend to hire in the spring and summer, after budgets are final and veteran staff retire.
“Education majors are at a disadvantage at midyear, in general, because teachers are hired in spring and summer,” Shirley said. “For other majors, graduating now is not necessarily a disadvantage since there could be fewer people competing for those jobs.”
Manning said a miscommunication caused him to miss a key course in his major. He had to make up the course with a science course.
He did his student teaching last spring and needed 12 credits to finish, so he took a Chinese history course and nine other credits in literacy, geography and environmental science. He made money by substitute teaching, refereeing modified basketball and working as a waiter at his family’s restaurant in Elmira, Lib’s Supper Club.
He plans to stay in Cortland through the spring semester, looking for teaching jobs and applying to law schools.
Sport management major Andrianna Lyons planned to return home to Cooperstown while she looks for a job.
She said she was hoping to land a job with the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, where she worked in the summer of 2010, but was not hired. So she plans to work at a local recreation center.
She also is considering graduate work in sport administration.
“I fell behind because I transferred in January of junior year from SUNY Cobleskill, and I was going to be a physical education major,” Lyons said. “But my parents both work in schools and told me the job outlook was bad, with schools having budget problems. This seemed like a better career path.”
She said she wants to stay close to her family if she can.
Like Manning, Lyons found it strange to say goodbye to 17 friends after graduation and then return to college with two other friends, after they all celebrated in May. She took advantage of the extra semester by adding a course in legal issues of sport and physical education.
Drew Herrmann, a sport management major from East Greenbush, Rensselaer County, missed a science requirement and returned for a ninth semester to take a biology course. He also wanted to finish his eligibility in collegiate rugby.
He added courses in economics and computer applications so he could receive minors in those areas, and did an independent study in fantasy sports and computer gaming, a field that interests him.
He did his internship last summer with the Cortland Youth Bureau. Now, he plans to move home and look for work, possibly with professional hockey and basketball teams in Albany.
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