Students’ choices add extra years

Katie Paysinger

Changing majors last minute, athletic eligibility, studying abroad and student teaching are creating an increase in the number of fifth-year students on campus.

For the students who started at Linfield in 2003, excluding transfers, 322 of the original 449 graduated. Forty-four returned for a fifth fall semester.

“Historically, Linfield has done pretty well with retention rates,” Registrar Eileen Bourassa said. “They are pretty stable once you get past freshman to sophomore percentages.”

Ben Karlin is currently in his third year of being a senior at Linfield. He switched his major to theater late in his academic career. He had changed it four or five times total, he said.

“It wasn’t my goal to be Van Wilder,” Karlin said. “College is a time (to) explore.”

Karlin will graduate this May with a bachelor’s degree in theater and a minor in music. He discovered his love for stage managing in the theater and hopes to continue, or possibly pursue law enforcement in McMinnville.

Karlin’s advice for students is to take advantage of their time at college, even if it requires staying longer                                   than typical.

“I disagree with the fact that people make up their minds freshman year and stay in that because they think they should,” Karin said. “You shouldn’t do what society tells you because you assume it’s right.”

According to the Institute for Education Sciences, Linfield holds its own in comparison to similar schools’ graduation rates. Their statistics match the registrar’s. Linfield had a 65 percent graduation rate in four years. Lewis & Clark College’s four-year graduation rate is slightly lower at 59 percent. On a five year graduation plan, Linfield has 71 percent, compared to Lewis & Clark’s 69 percent.

Various reasons explain why some students choose to stay an extra
semester or two.

“Sometimes athletes elect to return to play in the fall (and) football is the typical choice at Linfield,” Bourassa said. “Students also stay longer to complete an
extra major or minor or to student teach full time through the secondary education
program.”

Bourassa said studying abroad, although not typical, can hold students back an extra semester, as is the case for junior Alia Eraky.

Eraky studied in Costa Rica last semester and again last January Term. She recently decided to make Spanish her second major, as it was only a minor before.

In Linfield’s language programs, the major requires students to study abroad for a whole year. This means Eraky will have to go abroad again next fall. She will now graduate in spring of 2010, versus 2009.

“I’m disappointed that I won’t get to walk (at graduation) with some of my best friends,” Eraky said. “But I don’t regret my decision to add an additional major. Now I will have completed two majors, two minors and traveled abroad three times in only five years. I think that’s pretty good.”

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