518 students graduate from U.Va. in December 2017

Majority of the graduates will still participate in this spring's formal commencement ceremonies

Exactly 518 graduate and undergraduate students received degrees from a wide variety of the University’s schools and programs of study this past December. The graduates were roughly split between undergraduate and graduate level students. 

Of the 518 degrees conferred Dec. 21, each of the University’s schools awarded at least one degree. The College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences awarded the most of any of the University’s schools, issuing a total of 253 diplomas. 

Among the 25 different types of degrees awarded, the majority of graduates earned Bachelor of Arts degrees with 177 recipients. Bachelor of Science degrees garnered the second most diplomas with graduates receiving 30 in total. 

The University’s Office of Major Events is responsible for hosting final commencement exercises each May but does not typically hold a formal ceremony for December graduates, though smaller commemorative events may be held by groups at the University. This past December, the Fourth-Year Trustees hosted a dinner at the University to honor graduating undergraduate students. 

Cecil Banks, associate director of major events at the University, said the Office of Major Events does not hold formal commencement ceremonies for December graduates as the vast majority of University students prefer to participate in the traditional commencement ceremony held on the Lawn each May. 

“Over the last several decades, it’s been the tradition of most, if not all students, to prefer the tradition of walking the Lawn, the experience in May that is known as our traditional commencement ceremony,” Banks said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “The walk down the Lawn is really what is memorable to students, so most students prefer to continue that tradition.”

Banks said holding a formal graduation ceremony on the Lawn would be difficult due to the typical weather conditions in December. He also cited the concerns of families who would have difficulty traveling to Charlottesville in December as a contributing factor in the decision to forego a formal commencement ceremony for December graduates.

“We have received feedback that travel to Charlottesville in December would prevent some families from attending a December graduation ceremony,” Banks said. “We definitely want to be mindful of family concerns.” 

Banks said there are multiple reasons why students may choose to graduate from the University early including financial reasons, post-graduation career opportunities and study plans. He also said some students pursue graduate studies early when they graduate in December.

Banks also said that not all students choosing to graduate from the University in December are graduating early.

“The decision to graduate early is a personal choice of the student,” Banks said. “Also, December graduates consist of students that may be graduating late. These are students that may need additional credits to graduate, may have changed majors requiring additional time/credit, or have taken time away from the University (personal/medical leave).”

Austin White, a recent graduate of the College who double-majored in Foreign Affairs and Spanish, said he was able to graduate this past December due to Advanced Placement credits he had earned in high school.

“The most compelling reason to graduate early was because I could due to coming in with 18 AP credits,” White said.

White said that he decided to graduate early rather than attend an additional semester at the University in order to have additional time to solidify his post-graduate plans.

“I decided to graduate early without any particular post-grad plans for spring 2018 except for doing just that — narrowing down what comes next,” White said. “I hope to use this time for applying to more jobs, reading insightful books and working part-time to save money for the next chapter of my life.”

Virginia Crabtree, a recent graduate of the Curry School who received a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology, said she was able to graduate this past December by obtaining an associate’s degree from a community college while in high school.

Crabtree said she decided to graduate early to have more time off before she attends graduate school next fall to earn a master’s degree in speech pathology. She said she plans on working at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. this spring before heading to graduate school.

“I decided to graduate early because I thought having a semester off before going to get my master’s would be a good break,” Crabtree said. “I considered graduating a year early, but wanted to complete my last semester of marching band.”

Both White and Crabtree said they still plan on walking the Lawn at the University's traditional commencement ceremony in May. 

“I very much look forward to walking the Lawn with my friends in May,” White said. “It will feel real and official, plus the LinkedIn cap and gown headshots will be fun to take.”

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