I don’t remember dreaming much of college when I was younger; I looked much more into the future. I dreamt of getting married and having a huge closet (clearly I love fashion). But so many years later, here I am: a college student finishing up her fourth year still on the trek of getting her degree.
In my short thoughts about college, I didn’t see myself here. I saw what most other people saw: a stereotypical college lifestyle that resulted in graduating in four years. Unfortunately, that’s not how my life played out. It’ll take me roughly five or so years to finish my undergrad. I transferred schools and changed my major a few too many times for my parents’ comfort.
I haven’t had many bum feelings about taking an extra year to graduate, but lately, I have been. After a difficult year of failed exams and stressful nights, I chose to slow down this semester. I’m taking two classes, half of what I normally do, in order to work two jobs and focus on my mental health. Of course, no one sees that. Some might see me as a student taking my sweet time, graduating when I finally feel ready. Others might see someone not totally equipped to be at the University of Georgia (and some semesters I may not have been). However, I’m learning to deal with the fact that there is no shame in taking longer than four years to get an undergraduate degree.
Now I’m not going to say that taking this extra time has been the best choice ever. It’s hard to keep going when everyone near you is graduating or graduated. I lose motivation too often and feel so far behind those around me. Some of my classes have freshmen and sophomores in them who look at me funny, but they could end up being me too.
If you’re struggling in school in any way, you can take a step back. Taking a fifth year, or even more, is nothing to be ashamed of. There’s no right or wrong way to go to college, there’s only the way that works best for you. This is something I am still learning as I begin to hear whispers of graduation parties from all my friends around me. I couldn’t be more proud and excited for those I love to get the heck out of school and continue on, but at the same time, I feel slight jealousy and fear of missing out. If I didn’t have these feelings, I would be shocked. It’s totally normal if you do too. In a world where we constantly go through similar phases with those around us, it’s hard when that begins to transition.
Whether it’s college or another part of life, don’t be afraid to take a different route. Not everyone needs to move at the same speed or be so quick to move on. We all have our owns paths that define who we are and where our goals and ambitions will take us.
So go ahead and take advantage of all the things college has to offer. Stressfully blazing through school and failing a few classes isn’t one of them. However, there are things like student discounts and spring break that you’ll wish you had back after you graduate. So don’t look at that fifth year as a drag, look at it as a blessing. You’ll end up where you need to be in life with or without an extra year, so why not take some stress off your shoulders and spread out your time just a little longer. Who knows, it might end up being one of the best years of your life.
Your Fellow Fifth Year Undergrad