Josh Tvrdy, ’16 considers himself lucky to be an assistant coach for cross country and track and field alongside his duties as a post-bacc for the religious studies department.
“There’s no stipend attached to it and what that means is you need to work and you need to find a job,” he said.
Tvrdy’s post-bacc project focuses on a publication called ‘Fusion,’ which features spiritual and theological writings by students. Tvrdy and Knight Distinguished Associate Professor of Religion and Culture James Thrall hope that Tvrdy’s post-baccing year can be used to bring the online magazine back.
Celina Pedit, ’16 explained that post-baccing has two broad types: listing and self-designed. Listing post-baccs work with a department based on a position posting sent to graduating seniors in the spring. Students who see a need in the Knox community can apply for a self-designed position like Pedit did.
“Sometimes that can mean that you have a research project that is really important to you and there’s a professor who’s willing to work with you on it,” she said. “For some people, they see a need in the student body. Ultimately, the administration will decide.”
Pedit is doing two positions, one as Red Room manager and the other under Assistant Professor of Physics Nathalie Haurberg.
Pedit was only a student at Knox for three years because she brought in credits. She is using the four credits given to her for free by Knox to take classes she wanted to take and saw as important for her education before she goes to graduate school.
“So, it’s allowing me not to go to grad school right away – I can take some time to make sure I’m making the absolute best decision I can – and on top of that I’m getting experience both in the physics department and in the Center for Teaching and Learning,” Pedit said.
While Tvrdy is very enthusiastic about his work at Knox, he also spoke about the difficulties of being a post-bacc.
“Though I think there are a lot of assets to this program, in my experience, it is not possible to do any better than to break even,” he said.
Tvrdy explained that students have to be in one and a half credits, or half time, to defer their federal loans. A few years ago the Knox program was cut so that post-baccs could only take four credits throughout the three terms, which means they have to buy at least half a credit to get their loans deferred.
“That’s the only sort of compensation that the school gives to post-baccs and so in every case I’ve known of a post-bacc, you have to live somewhere and you have to eat,” Tvrdy said.
Although Tvrdy’s on-campus job as the assistant cross country and track and field coach has subsidized him to an extent, like most students at Knox, he worries about his loans.
“It is a real financial paralysis position to be in,” he said.