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Dean Sin­clair, early graduate | Facebook Courtesy

Thirty-three seniors grad­uated a semester early, but few have phys­i­cally left Hillsdale. Maybe it truly is the people — or just year-long leases and promises of a salary.

Instead of taking classes, Jacob Petersen applied for three jobs at Hillsdale: project man­agement, the call center, and the Dow Lead­ership Center.

“I think everyone who grad­uated early stayed on campus for the rest of the semester. You graduate early, save money, get a job, and apply to more jobs for the future,” Petersen said. “When employers see that I grad­uated a semester early, I’ll just explain I’m eco­nom­i­cally smart with money.”

Peterson said he plans to work either at the Charles Koch Institute or in the hotel industry.

Hillsdale Home­coming King Dean Sin­clair from McHenry, Illinois said he seized the oppor­tunity to graduate early when he saw it.

“One day, it hit me while I was writing papers in the library, and I thought, ‘You know, there’s a way I don’t have to do this,’” Sin­clair said. “But it was hard because I was checked out school-wise.”

Sin­clair said he grad­uated and looked for a job teaching history because he feared himself himself “waking up at 2 p.m and start drinking a beer at 6.” 

Carla Stewart, the sec­retary at Will Car­leton Academy, emailed Sin­clair over winter break and offered him a fourth-grade teaching position after an interview. He  replaced the teacher until she returns from maternity leave in March.

Sin­clair said he had pre­vi­ously par­tic­i­pated in a teaching immersion program at Mystic Value Regional Charter School in Malden, Mass­a­chu­setts and interned at the Chicago Clas­sical Academy.

“So I’ve done a lot, but I’ve never been a teacher for a full seven-hour day,” Sin­clair said.

Sin­clair said he’s saving $13,000 by grad­u­ating early.

Sin­clair said he prefers teaching so he can devote time to playing in his band, August Hotel.

“All I really want to do is be a rockstar, but second is teaching, and, in a way, the two kinds of work together: Teachers have weekends, week­nights, and summers off, and bands tend to play weekends, week­nights, and summers,” he said. “So you see how that works. I could never be a bar­tender, right?”

Sin­clair said the first two weeks of his job have been  “pretty crazy” and “a lot of fun,” but it was a large change —  he said he hadn’t been around so many fourth graders since he was one of them.

“Right now, my best friends are 9 and 10-year-old kids,” Sin­clair said.

Sin­clair said he faces mul­tiple chal­lenges daily in the classroom.

“The biggest thing is you don’t want to be a toughie right away, or a dis­ci­plinary figure,” he said. “But you have to be firm with them or else they will walk all over you.”

Sin­clair said his biggest sur­prise is that just about every student wants to know his marital status.

“All they want to do is know if I’m married or not, and they ask on a regular basis. It’s not like it’s going to change each day,” he said. “On my first day, the peanut allergy table asked me to take out my left hand from my pocket, and they saw there’s no ring, so they knew I wasn’t married.”

Sin­clair retold a con­ver­sation with his stu­dents asking ques­tions when they saw pic­tures of Womb formal.

“They asked if she was my girl­friend, and I told them, ‘No,’ Sin­clair said. “’So she’s your wife?’ the kids asked. ‘No,’ I responded. ‘Do you want her to be your wife?’ they asked. ‘No.’ And then they catch you off-guard and you don’t expect it.”

Sin­clair said the stu­dents also have no under­standing of age.

“We thought you were like 40, but now we think you’re either like 20 or 30,” the kids said, according to Sin­clair. “They asked when I graduate college, and I told them they didn’t want to know, so they thought I’m really old because that’s nor­mally what older people tend to say.”

Sin­clair said sub­stitute teaching isn’t his dream career, however, it is a good expe­rience and pow­erful on a resume. But he needs his cer­ti­fi­cation to teach in Illinois, which requires a year of work unless he teaches at a private school.

Sin­clair plans to tem­porarily teach, instead of starting at a “real” job like one of his peers.

Tanner Orion Wright from Cincinnati, Ohio,w said the decision to graduate early was “super easy” and cost-effective.

“Money was the main moti­vator, but also to have my evenings back to myself,” Wright said. “It would have cost me at about $10,000. On top of that I get my salary, and of course, I don’t have homework.”

Wright accepted a job from Grant Street Group, a Pitts­burgh-based group he met at a Hillsdale job fair.

Wright, who is walking in May, said he never con­sidered moving out of Hillsdale this semester because of his lease and his girl­friend.

Wright said he believed grad­u­ating early gave him a leg up in the real world.

“If I were to interview some­where else I think my position would be an advantage because not only did I graduate a semester early, I also grad­uated with a double major of applied math­e­matics and eco­nomics,” he said. “I think that makes me stand out. I def­i­nitely would rec­ommend grad­u­ating early to anyone thinking about it. It looks good to employers, and it’s lucrative as far as far as making money, and it’s nice to be able to get into the real world.”

All three said, in ret­ro­spect, they made a cost-effective decision.

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    Well written piece