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OSU student with 4 majors says he got 4 hours of sleep in 4 nights

Tyler Joswick / Asst. photo editor

A classic piece of advice given to incoming freshmen is to know what you want to study before entering college.

That proved to be a good idea for an Ohio State student who was prepared enough to work on nearly one degree each year he has been at OSU.

David Chao, a fifth-year in international studies, German, political science and psychology, will be graduating with four bachelor’s degrees this quarter.

John Hampton, commencement program coordinator for the university registrar, said it is uncommon to see an OSU student receive four bachelor’s degrees.

Hampton said he can only remember one instance of someone graduating with that many degrees, and it was about 20 years ago.

“The possibility of graduating in just five years with four bachelor degrees tells so much about the human spirit,” said executive vice president and provost Joseph Alutto in a statement to The Lantern. “I admire David Chao’s ability to have juggled these demanding programs and look forward to hearing what he will accomplish in the next five years! It is also gratifying to know that Ohio State can accommodate a student with such desire, drive and diligence.”

This quarter, Chao is taking 35 credit hours, the most he has taken in one quarter. He said he typically takes 20 to 25 credit hours per quarter and only took classes during one summer quarter.

While Chao has a high number of classes and majors, he has a little time for other activities, like sleep.

Chao said he sleeps for, at most, one hour per day Monday through Thursday and catches up on rest during the weekends.

To make the most of his time, he had to become creative with multitasking.

“Some people have actually told me that they’ve seen me and will greet me as the walking-book guy,” Chao said. “I’m always walking with my nose in a book.”

Chao said he was around 15 years old when he decided what he wanted to study in college.

He was born in Rockville, Md., but has lived in Columbus most of his life. He said his mother, who came from Taiwan, raised him in accordance with a strict East-Asian attitude.

Chao attends OSU on a scholarship covering his full tuition and said the decision to complete four degrees came from deciding to spend five years at OSU.

“I thought of it in terms of mathematics,” Chao said. “There was actually very little incentive to go very quickly.”

He split up his four majors by taking them somewhat separately. He said he started his freshman year working on psychology, moved to international studies and then to political science, while taking German classes throughout.

“I had a pretty good distribution in terms of how I separated (the majors),” Chao said.

In addition to pursuing four degrees, Chao works as a student research assistant and will complete study abroad trips to Germany, Ukraine and Indonesia.

Chao said he believes his four degrees and trips abroad complement each other.

“I think it makes me very viable for a number of jobs,” he said.

After graduating in June, Chao said he will complete a study abroad trip to Indonesia and then begin officer’s school for the Marines. He said he plans to attend graduate school and is considering a dual master’s degree.

Chao said he is not sure what area he plans to pursue his master’s degree in.

Chao said one of his greatest feelings about graduation does not come from earning four degrees.

“Leaving school with no debt is my biggest achievement,” Chao said.

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